We are seeing a terrible surge in drug deaths in Scotland right now and it’s time to take urgent action.
There is a clear case study that gives us a great example of exactly what needs to be done.
In the lead up to the new millennium, Portugal was also seeing a horrible rise in drug deaths. This was when a physician, Dr Joao Goulao, introduced a new government drugs policy where drugs offences were no longer treated as criminal acts but instead were managed by the health authorities and seen as a health problem.
The results of this have been really clear. From a long period of increasing drug deaths.
Immediately after applying this new policy in 2001 drugs deaths directly turned around and headed down.
Other associated deaths were also reversed
Since then, whilst drugs deaths in other European countries trended higher, Portugal continued to trend lower.
If you look to see where Portugal now sits in comparison to Scotland or the USA ( the two worst cases for drugs deaths ) you can see clear evidence of Portugal’s success:
In case you are concerned that because of this lack of ‘punishment’, addiction problems amongst the young are increasing? It simply isn’t the case. In the immediate aftermath of this change in policy, there was a slight increase in people ‘admitting’ to having used drugs but over the longer term, the trend has been lower.
(Source https://transformdrugs.org/the-success-of-portugals-decriminalisation-policy-in-seven-charts/ )
Dr Goulao has explained the success of a health approach to addiction it isn’t simply a matter that Portugal ‘decriminalising’ drug problems but “the biggest effect is caused by allowing the stigma of addiction to fall, allowing people to speak clearly and pursue professional help without fear”.
We have been stuck in a failing ‘drug war’ paradigm for decades and it has continually made the problem worse. It is urgently time we abandon this failed policy and adopt a purely health-based approach to addiction.