There has been much debate over the years as to whether drugs should be decriminalised. Many high-profile figures, including former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Sir Richard Branson, have spoken of how they feel the war on drugs in the UK is not working and that decriminalising drugs is the only way forward.
However, the UK Government recently announced plans to introduce a blanket ban on all psychoactive substances, with the exception of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. The effect of this ban would be that so-called legal highs are banned.
Many parents and health experts worried about the number of deaths linked to these substances have welcomed the proposed ban.
Is the Ban a Good Idea?
The suggested ban has been based on a similar ban that was introduced in the Republic of Ireland in 2010. Nevertheless, it was recently revealed that the ban in Ireland is not without its problems. In fact, the Irish Parliament is now investigating alternatives; the drugs policy in Portugal is one that is being looked at.
In 2001, Portugal decriminalised the possession of drugs for personal use and, although there were many critics of the move at the time, findings have shown that there has not been an increase in drug use or drug trafficking. In addition, the many drug users from other countries that many feared would flock to Portuguese shores have not arrived. The truth is that the drugs policy in Portugal has led to a reduction in drug deaths and saved money in police and subsequent court costs – many are calling it a huge success.
The drugs policy in Portugal initially divided political parties, with the right-wing parties opposed to it. Nonetheless, it would now appear that all parties support this popular policy, especially considering that AIDS and HIV deaths have fallen. Compare this to Sweden where a no tolerance policy is in place, and the number of drug-related deaths is extremely high.
More than Just Decriminalisation
The Home Office here in the UK has admitted that the drugs policy in Portugal has been a success but is keen to point out that there is more to the story. While decriminalisation has no doubt worked, there were also significant investments in drugs treatment introduced in Portugal at the same time, which has also contributed to improvements in health and reductions in drug use.
Portugal’s success is down to a coordinated programme aimed at helping drug addicts to get the treatment they need to get their lives back on track. Drugs responsibility was removed from the justice department and instead became the responsibility of the health department. The Portuguese government also set up two new addiction bodies to assist the treatment of drug addicts.
Employers were provided with tax breaks for taking on recovering drug addicts and releasing them for treatment when necessary. Many Portuguese addicts were able to begin a new life of sobriety without the weight of a criminal record around their necks. Many believe that the UK should be implementing a similar system instead of opting for a ban on all psychoactive substances.
Help for Addiction
At the moment, many in the UK are suffering from addictions to substances such as drugs and alcohol. Moreover, while there is no evidence to suggest that the UK government would ever consider a drugs decriminalisation programme, there is help available for addicts that can help them turn their lives around.
Addiction Helper has a team of expert advisors and counsellors ready to take your call and provide you with advice and information on where you can get the treatment you need. Call us today for free, confidential advice. Addiction politics are a problematic topic, but we can assist you with understanding everything about them.