The Fix Is In –
Oct 22, 2020 – If the goal is to reduce harm while ensuring public safety, we need to shift our perspectives to reflect the fact that drug use is not going away anytime soon. We should reform our policies so that they are based on research and designed for maximum effectiveness, not retribution. As a case study, Portugal stands out as a nation that has perhaps come closest to solving the problem. With the lowest drug-related death rate in Europe, Portugal has seen a death toll of less than 100 people each year for the past 12 years, compared to more than 67,300 in the U.S. in 2018. In 2001, following a severe drug problem in the ’90s and a long era of authoritarian control and tight drug restrictions, Portugal became the first nation to decriminalize all drugs. Since then, it has seen overdose, HIV infection, drug-related crime and incarceration rates decrease dramatically.
What is clear is that if resources were diverted from prohibition to harm reduction, it would free up funds to spend on other more efficient, research-based programs proven to reduce drug-related problems. Syringe exchange programs, for example, have been shown to not only reduce HIV and HCV rates by 50%, and would also save American taxpayers at least $6 on preventative HIV costs for every $1 spent. Despite the evidence, current propositions by our leaders are often populist.