Portugal Lowers Drug Use By Sending Addicts To Therapy Instead of Jail
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Over the years, Portugal has tried desperately to combat their ever-growing heroin epidemic. They poured money into fighting a drug war, but found the best solution was to send addicts to therapy instead of jail.
When Portugal’s war on drugs failed, the country was left with an increasing number of users. Portugal’s top drug cop Joao Figueira had a unique view on the problem and in 2000 he warned that more crime equated to more addicts. He pushed for a radically different approach.
Finally, Portugal listened. They decriminalized all drugs and set out to help addicts reconnect with their feelings and to society. Instead of being incarcerated, addicts were provided with various ways to bond together and care for one another.
Portugal discovered the most important aspect of their new plan was to give addicts secure housing and subsidized jobs. This gave the addicts' life purpose and a reason to put down the needle. They also offered treatment programs.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive. A study by the British Journal of Criminology found that Portugal’s drug has decreased nearly 50% since the country started treating their addicts. In fact, the initiative has been so successful that few have any desire to return to the old system.
We have already begun to see decriminalization of marijuana in America and while decriminalization of all drugs may not be our answer, adopting Portugal’s attitude of greater care towards addicts would certainly be a step in the right direction.