Portugal: Winning the War on Addiction

Drug addiction is a major problem worldwide, effecting at least 15.3 million people [1], ruining their lives and causing untold physical complications. Because of the toll such things can take on society, western governments adopted the paradigm of the war on drugs — locking up the users, seeking out the dealers, brokering tied aid to cartel ravaged countries. However, in 2001, Portugal decided to turn the rhetoric on its head. Accepting what’s well known in psychology [2], they proceeded to attempt to treat addicts instead of prosecuting them.

15 years on, and it’s still going strong. Natural News has a wonderful article [3] on the topic:

Instead of being locked up, people with drug problems in Portugal are getting more help than ever before. Drug users are more willing to seek professional help for their addictions because they do not fear being put behind bars. This is having a positive impact on the population as a whole, as fewer people in the country are overdosing than ever before.

Decriminalizing drugs saves lives and allows families and community support groups to help loved ones struggling with drug addictions. Today there are only three drug overdose deaths per one million Portuguese citizens. Portugal leads the way in protecting the lives of those with drug problems. In contrast, countries that make drug abusers into criminals have much higher rates of drug overdose deaths. A country like Denmark has about 60 drug overdose deaths per one million citizens, which is a death rate twenty times greater than that of Portugal.

As the numbers show, strict drug laws don’t necessarily fix the problem of drug abuse and overdose deaths. In the UK, where drug laws are stiff, there are 44.6 drug overdose deaths per one million. Similarly, in Estonia there are 126.8 deaths per million citizens.

Dangerous, synthetic street drugs becoming less popular under Portugal’s decriminalization policies
Portugal’s decriminalization approach also prevents many people from using synthetic street drugs that they experiment with to get around the strict laws on things like cannabis. These nasty drug variants, such as “synthetic marijuana,” have unhealthy, life-threatening consequences. “Bath salts” and “synthetic marijuana” are now rarely heard of in Portugal, because more people can access the harmless THC high of cannabis without fear. Other countries that criminalize cannabis actually have more problems with these nasty, synthetic street drugs. It’s obvious why synthetic highs are losing popularity in Portugal.

For more on this, head on over to the original article at Natural News! Or for more on laws abroad, check out how Swiss insurance will cover naturopathic treatments!

Sources:
[1]World Health Organization
[2]DrugFree
[3]Natural News
[Original Image]Pixabay

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