Napoleon couldn’t take Portugal; thanks to the decriminalization of drugs, drug addiction won’t either. Since all drugs were decriminalized in in Portugal in 2001, addiction has nearly halved. Correlation does not equal causation, though – right? Maybe the decline in drug addiction is due to the social programs that are in place now that the police aren’t chasing drug users. In this week’s episode of Beer & Bros, Dan and Lyle discuss the decriminalization of all drugs. Where do you think the hosts stand? Listen and find out.
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession of all drugs for personal use. Fifteen years later, we have a compelling set of data to look over. Data that tell of the success of Portugal’s efforts.
The drug situation has improved drastically. Pick a source; you’ll find the same information. HIV infections and drug-related deaths have sharply decreased. Along with decriminalization, Portugal has been able to afford to enact a more health-conscious approach to drug treatment. There have been policy changes, and the changes have brought about a near end to the social stigma of drug use. When people don’t have to fear going to jail, they don’t hesitate when something seems to be going wrong. No fear of incarceration, no hesitation, a drastic decrease in overdose.
A report titled “Drug decriminalization in Portugal: setting the record straight” published on tdpf.org.uk – a British drug policy reform website, tells us these interesting facts (and they’re all backed up with cited sources):
- “Levels of drug use are below the European average5
- “Drug use has declined among those aged 15-24, the population most at risk of initiating drug use
- Lifetime drug use among the general population has increased slightly, in line with trends in comparable nearby countries. However, lifetime use is widely considered to be the least accurate measure of a country’s current drug use situation
- “Rates of past-year and past-month drug use among the general population – which are seen as the best indicators of evolving drug use trends – have decreased
- “Between 2000 and 2005 (the most recent years for which data are available) rates of problematic drug use and injecting drug use decreased
- “Drug use among adolescents decreased for several years following decriminalization, but has since risen to around 2003 levels
- “Rates of continuation of drug use (i.e. the proportion of the population that have ever used an illicit drug and continue to do so) have decreased”
Our hosts have an enlightening discussion on the topic. Listen and see if you agree with their viewpoints.