Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal


Drug warriors often contend that drug use would skyrocket if we were to legalize or decriminalize drugs in the United States. Fortunately, we have a real-world example of the actual effects of ending the violent, expensive War on Drugs and replacing it with a system of treatment for problem users and addicts.

Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half:

 

“There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.


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Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

“This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”