Portugal finds a way to winning the war against drugs by transforming the way drug use is seen. Portuguese drug users are encouraged to quit through public health campaigns which tackled addiction and also stopped criminalizing users of all types of drugs.
This all started back in 2001 when the US started spending money by heavily incarcerating drug users and Portugal headed the other way, treating this issue as a medical condition rather than taking it as a criminal issue.
Although it seems that the approach is wrong, Portugal managed to lower the number of people using drugs from 100,000 people in 2001 to 25,000 in 2017. The mortality rate due to overdose makes Portugal the lowest country in Western Europe.
It Seems that the Compassionate Public Health Campaign is Effective
Americans struggle with drug addiction and most of those addicted end up losing their homes, friends, family and even their own lives.
In Portugal, the campaign supplies the addicted people with methadone in order to substitute the use of opioids and help people to have a stable life and not lose their jobs. Methadone is used in the US for treating drug addicts but the treatment is expensive and only 10% of the American population can get it, while Portugal uses it as a standard treatment in their campaigns.
The treatment will support their habit and will keep it under control while also preventing theft or other criminal behaviors that would happen if they needed money for drugs.
Drugs are Not Legalized in Portugal
Even though this public health is in action, this doesn’t mean that drugs are legal. Drug dealers will still face law punishment, going to prison. A small quantity such as a 10-day supply is allowed and will not be considered a crime but it’s an administrative offense. The offenders will have to go to a meeting where social workers try to prevent addiction.