According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration,” and “ban compulsory treatment for people who use and/or inject drugs.” These recommendations stand in stark contrast to U.S. policies, which lead to a criminal-justice-based response to drug use. Conversely, Portugal has decriminalized drug use leading to reductions in problematic use, drug-related harms, and criminal justice overcrowding. Additionally, most U.S. treatment models are abstinence-based, while Canada and many South American and European countries take a harm-reduction approach. This presentation will offer a comparison of the United States and Portugal drug policies, as well as each nation’s approach to providing and financing treatment. Outcome studies regarding the efficacy of each apporach will also be explored. We will facilitate an energized dialogue regarding the value and deficits of each approach, including possible changes to U.S. drug policies and treatment strategies.
Upon completion of this session, attendees will be able to:
Demonstrate awareness of globally recognized best practices in drug policy and treatment.
Evaluate the effect of abstinence-only treatment policies.
Differentiate areas of U.S. drug policy that might be susceptible to best practice change.