SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE NOTORIOUS YET UNIQUE “PORTUGUESE EXPERIMENT”
- December 9, 2018
Sometimes, when we hear about all the drug problems and alcohol-related incidences sweeping across the news, we often forget that the United States is not the only country suffering from major epidemics. Our companion Australia and our neighbor to the north Canada are battling Opioid Crises of their own, while Scotland is battling from a particularly nasty case of an addiction epidemic overall. However, one country we might be quick to overlook is Portugal, the neighbor of Spain. We know this beautiful little nation for its gorgeous beaches, fields of flowers, and classical Latin architecture. While you might be surprised to hear that this beautiful country suffers from a heroin problem, did you know that it has completely obliterated criminal punishment for non-criminal drug use? Let’s take a closer look at these surprising series of events in Portugal.
The Infamous “Portugal Experiment”
Several years ago, Gil Kerlikowske (former Director of the National Drug Control Policy) explained that 85% of funds related to drug treatment research directly stem from the United States. However, in 2012, he traveled to four different countries (Mexico, Columbia, Italy, and Portugal) to determine how these officials handled drug treatment programs. So where does Portugal fit into this mix?
According to Kerlikowske, lawmakers in Portugal have not arrested or detained people associated with recreational drug use since 2001. Known as the “Portugal Experiment,” this particular study has gained notoriety and infamy from professionals in addiction and criminal justice systems around the world. In fact, TIME magazine ran a headline showcasing that the Portuguese government obliterated criminal penalties concerning the possession and use of drugs like cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and meth.
Redirecting Our Course
According to Dr. João Castel-Branco Goulã (an architect of the Portuguese drug policy), since addiction is a disease of the mind, there is no reason for officials to arrest (simply put) sick people. As a result, if authorities found a person who was addicted to drugs or abusing these substances, that person was offered medical assistance and therapy instead of being arrested. In effect, based on Dr. Goulã’s theory, fewer innocent people would be put behind bars. Now, as of 2001, people accused taking/possessing drugs are put before a panel (psychologist, social worker, and legal advisor) who recommend a rigorous treatment plan.
Always remember that drugs do not have control over your life. You do. Are you suffering from a substance use disorder or a severe form of addiction? Do you have a friend or family member suffering from one or more of these debilitating illnesses? If you do, get in touch with Asana Recovery today. Our counselors and healthcare experts are ready to walk you through every step of the detox and withdrawal process and rehabilitation and guide you towards living a happier, healthier, and freer lifestyle. While the road to recovery might not be an easy road to travel, we promise to help you every step of the way. Take the first step to stay fit, healthy, and safe.
The time for you to take back control of your life is now. If you are interested in one of our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how to overcome your drug abuse or addiction troubles today.