As I’ve discussed in an earlier post, the war on drugs here in America has been a colossal failure. The statistics don’t lie: it has caused a massive increase in prison populations, an increase in drug cartel activity, destroyed families, and has led to a skyrocket in drug violence.
We should end the war on drugs, of course, but I want to take it one step further. What if there was an alternative that would allow for an increase in treatment and productivity among addicts, reduce violence, and help reduce the negative side effects of drug use?
Sounds like a dream in heaven, but it’s not. It’s a tried and true method, employed in multiple European countries. It’s called harm reduction.
What is harm reduction?
Harm reduction is a more humanitarian and helpful approach to drug problems. It involves government programs that help drug addicts stabilize their addictions, find new housing, and deal with the problems within their lives.
The government sets up centers where addicts can come in, receive clean, free needles under steady watch, receive medical attention, and get counselling from social workers to help with their problems.
Huh? What’s he talking about? You’re giving needles with drugs TO the addicts? That can’t work! Well, it has. Again, the statistics don’t lie. When this was tried in Portugal and Switzerland, both countries saw:
- Decreased HIV rates
- Fewer overdoses
- More treatment
- Far fewer arrests
So obviously the policies work.
The war on drugs is nothing short of a failure. Rather than reduce violence it has made the situation worse than it was forty years ago. It’s time to end the war on drugs and replace our policies with harm reduction. It will heal the wounds that drug abuse has dealt and help those truly in need, leading to a future generation of health, peace, and higher productivity.