Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal

Drug warriors often contend that drug use would skyrocket if we were to legalize or decriminalize drugs in the United States. Fortunately, we have a real-world example of the actual effects of ending the violent, expensive War on Drugs and replacing it with a system of treatment for problem users and addicts, while you can always ask a question about addiction treatment.

Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half:

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

Many of these innovative treatment procedures would not have emerged if addicts had continued to be arrested and locked up rather than treated by medical experts and psychologists. Currently 40,000 people in Portugal are being treated for drug abuse. This is a far cheaper, far more humane way to tackle the problem. Rather than locking up 100,000 criminals, the Portuguese are working to cure 40,000 patients and fine-tuning a whole new canon of drug treatment knowledge at the same time.

None of this is possible when waging a war.

Read original here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/07/05/ten-years-after-decriminalization-drug-abuse-down-by-half-in-portugal/

5 Comments on Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal

  1. People disgust me… Some people, take Carol Larson and her comments for example, are so xenophobic that they will try to take anything negative, even if it has a zero correlation, and try to say that positive change and progress are responsible for the issue. Please trust and believe, that for whatever reason, that more people will abuse drugs & alcohol if they are illegal. I admit that the behavior is counter-intuitive, but those are the cold hard facts. And it isnt just when it comes to substance abuse, it is the same for anything we are told that we are not allowed to do. Take the Orthodox church for example… When the soviet union was in power the church flourished under ground, and illegally, in Russia. Now that the faithful no longer have to practice in secret there is not the growth there once was by any stretch of the imagination. So please pass the word that the united states failed drug war is just that, failed. Thomas Jeferson stated that any nation that sacrifices it’s freedoms for it’s security will not have, or deserve, either one. Do your part, spread the truth.

  2. Portugal may be helping treat drug abusers, which is wonderful, but their functional literacy is lowest in Europe. In 2007 64% of population never read a book. Their higher edu rate is lowest in EU in 2003 their unemployment rate is going up and was at all time hi of 16.9% in 2012. Has their drug decriminalization contributed to any of their persisting lags in education and high unemployment?. They do teach moral and religious edu in 7-9th grade.
    Have they always done this? Wonder if these classes have a drug education component.

  3. If it wasn’t for the drug money , the c.i.a. wouldn’t have enough funds for all their black-ops . Therefore decriminalization will never happen in the U.S……..

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