October 24, 2005

An international approach to fight against substance abuse

I would like to share with you my acceptance speech at the award ceremony:

"I am deeply touched by SHARE!'s kind recognition and this very prestigious award.

In my opinion, drugs are one of the most destructive and dangerous weapons in the world and the biggest problem ever faced by human kind. The disease of substance abuse knows no boundaries, does not discriminate and I believe it is the mother of all social maladies, and as such it exacerbates the side effects and the impact of other social maladies such as prostitution, suicide, depression, famine, poverty and the devastation faced by street children. No one is immune to this disease.

I believe that the issue of substance abuse and drugs in general, stem from socio-economic and especially political roots; many governments and world powers are profiting from drug trafficking since the revenues involved exceeds those from the sale of artillery and weapons. Sadly, we not only fear stating the truth, we are more afraid of hearing it.

It is indeed true that addiction and AIDS, as well as other social maladies are eating away at the roots of humanity but they don't have to be the realities of our society. Devastation occurs mostly when we allow denial to obscure the painful facts. Let us fight these devastating issues with a revolutionary reaction which requires the cooperation and unity and a harmonious action by the society as a whole, regardless of political, cultural and religious diversities. Aside from a physical cleansing, our society needs a mental cleansing, a cleansing of the mind, of our vision, washing away all the fanaticism, close mindedness, fears and ignorance.

In the past 27 years since I left my beautiful and rich country of Iran, the population of substance abusers rose from 3% to 63%, where the most recent statistics reveal over 32 million addicts in Iran. The major culprits being carelessness, ignorance and cover up by the authorities and the existing political backbone. The growth rate of addiction is currently three times the rate of population growth. In my opinion, if this situation is not addressed by international organizations, it will lead to the annihilation of the future generations.

The sad condition of the refugees is another devastating issue the world is facing, in which my countrymen are deeply involved. These individuals, either willingly or purposely to survive, flee their country. Over 190 thousand of my countrymen fall into this category each year. Sadly, due to the breach of the 1951 Geneva Convention by many countries, these refugees, especially their families and children, are victims of the devastating and heartbreaking impact of depression, substance abuse, prostitution and other social maladies.

As a disease with an inherent nature of chronicity, concealment and denial, addiction destroys its victims by slowly burning their life to ashes as they slowly burn their candles at both ends to withstand the pain of living. It is our responsibility to address this situation through three major factors of education, treatment and prevention, always remembering that education and prevention should be at the forefront of this battle and are always more constructive and beneficial financially and fundamentally. This technique, should mimic the inherent characteristics of the disease of addiction, and as such should not be implemented periodically but repetitively and openly. This should be accomplished through multilingual public service announcements broadcasted and presented perpetually throughout all international media.

The nature of my profession entails constant trips all around the world; therefore, I decided to use this opportunity to spread the message of hope and education, as well as the means of prevention and treatment through seminars held worldwide. I invite knowledgeable specialist, therapists and counselors on selected related subject matters to compliment this process, and attempt to expand the impact of these efforts and the parameter of its educational impact through my radio and television programs. What I have experienced through these endeavors is the painful fact that the future of the younger generation is in peril and there is an absolute and crucial need for immediate action.

Thus, I would like to propose the establishment of an international organization, such as UNICEF (dealing with the needs of children) and Amnesty International (dealing with the needs of refugees), to constructively, logically and scientifically address substance abuse worldwide. I invite all international artists who believe in their responsibility towards humanity, using the power of the emotional and spiritual rapport created through their art and music, to join this project. It is only through a united, international approach that we can reach out and touch all those who desperately are in need of help to survive and I have no doubt that a with harmonious, uniform effort empowered with love and compassion, we can reach this goal.

Once again I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your recognition."