How Other Countries Deal with Their Drug Problems
By Therese Aseoche
So called vigilante activities against drug trafficking under the Duterte administration have led to the surrender of drug pushers and users nationwide, lest they become one of the bodies upon bodies of suspected drug criminals piling up at funeral homes every day. There has got to be a better way to deal with the drug problem, human rights advocates say. Other countries have been able to curb theirs through unconventional means that don’t involve summary executions. There may be a thing or two we can learn from them.
8. Therapy sessions
Some would argue drug addiction is a disease rather than a punishable offense. Therefore, medical treatment—as opposed to incarceration—is seen as a better and more effective solution to drug-related crimes. Portugal, specifically, notifies the apprehended drug user to appear before a ‘dissuasion commission’ consisting of legal, social and psychological experts, and then advised to undergo counseling after repeated appearances.
7. Supervised injection sites
Countries like Australia, Switzerland, and Canada have been at the forefront of implementing legally-sanctioned and medically-supervised drug consumption rooms where chronic users can legally inject themselves without fear of prosecution and overdose. The aim of having these supervised sites is to provide a safe, hygienic space for intravenous consumption, as well as reduce improper syringe disposal and public drug use. These facilities also stand as pathways to rehabilitation, treatment and other health services.
6. Differentiating “Hard” from “Soft” Drugs
And then there are those that can tell the difference between the effects of “soft” drugs and “hard” drugs. The Netherlands tolerates drug consumption, but only for soft (e.g. marijuana), drugs, which are proven to be less dangerous than hard drugs (e.g. ecstasy, cocaine).
5. Court-ordered community service
Drug users of meager amounts often end up doing community service rather than facing a couple of years of imprisonment. Such is done in countries including Portugal and the UK. Community service work varies among countries, but can include assisting people in need, cleaning, supporting local initiatives, and environmental work.
4. Adjustment of fines
Switzerland is one country that exercises fine adjustment when issuing them to druggies according to the amount caught with and their financial circumstances. Fines are increased with repeated apprehension, still in accordance with the user’s financial standing.
3. Government regulation
Though marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use in some places worldwide, it is in Uruguay where the government takes measures to ensure their drug consumption is controlled and drug trade is regulated. Consumers and pharmacies must first register with the government before being allowed to purchase and legally sell marijuana.
2. Evidence-based voluntary community-based treatment
In July 2012, the United Nations issued a joint statement advising the shutdown of compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centers, pushing instead to respond to drug dependence through evidence-informed and rights-based approaches. One of which is giving them health service options from which they can choose to aid in their road to recovery.
1. Positive rethinking of Drug Policy
Though drugs are still considered as an illegal commodity worldwide (with the exception of marijuana that is slowly gaining acceptance for its health benefits), it’s the perspective that governments take that makes a difference.
It does seem that the bloody campaign is putting the fear of god in illegal drug makers, users and pushers and it seems like society is finally winning this war. But arbitrary, final and terminal solutions like this usually come at a terrible cost.
How do you think the Philippines can deal with its drug problems? Sound off below!