Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

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Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ulc » Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:03 pm UTC

http://www.beckleyfoundation.org/2012/07/18/portugal-decriminalized-all-drugs-eleven-years-ago-and-the-results-are-staggering/

Maybe it's about time that the western world stops labeling drug users criminals, throwing them in prison instead of helping them.

Now we have a demonstration that helping people is more effective at dealing with drug users rather than throwing them in prison.

Full text in spoiler
Spoiler:
On July 1st, 2001, Portugal decriminalized every imaginable drug, from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. Some thought Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven, others predicted usage rates among youths to surge. Eleven years later, it turns out they were both wrong.

Over a decade has passed since Portugal changed its philosophy from labeling drug users as criminals to labeling them as people affected by a disease. This time lapse has allowed statistics to develop and in time, has made Portugal an example to follow.

First, some clarification.

Portugal’s move to decriminalize does not mean people can carry around, use, and sell drugs free from police interference. That would be legalization. Rather, all drugs are “decriminalized,” meaning drug possession, distribution, and use is still illegal. While distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense, possession and use is moved out of criminal courts and into a special court where each offender’s unique situation is judged by legal experts, psychologists, and social workers. Treatment and further action is decided in these courts, where addicts and drug use is treated as a public health service rather than referring it to the justice system (like the U.S.), reports Fox News.

The resulting effect: a drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following ten years. Portugal’s drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states, according to the same report.

One more outcome: a lot less sick people. Drug related diseases including STDs and overdoses have been reduced even more than usage rates, which experts believe is the result of the government offering treatment with no threat of legal ramifications to addicts.

While this policy is by no means news, the statistics and figures, which take years to develop and subsequently depict the effects of the change, seem to be worth noting. In a country like America, which may take the philosophy of criminalization a bit far (more than half of America’s federal inmates are in prison on drug convictions), other alternatives must, and to a small degree, are being discussed.

For policymakers or people simply interested in this topic, cases like Portugal are a great place to start.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby bluebambue » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:27 pm UTC

Good for Portugal.

There is a step in that direction in the drug court system http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_court
It's a system where some drug users are able to go through treatment and abstinence rather than being stuck in jail. There are some issues due to uneven implementation and lack of oversight.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ceron » Wed Jul 18, 2012 4:30 pm UTC

If only they'd try this in America.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:10 pm UTC

It can't be done in the US, at least not without rivers of blood; the gangs want drugs to be completely illegal, and are willing to murder for it.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:11 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Garm » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:11 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:It can't be done in the US, at least without rivers of blood; the gangs want drugs to be completely illegal.


The gangs and the entirety of the DEA.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:45 pm UTC

Garm wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:It can't be done in the US, at least without rivers of blood; the gangs want drugs to be completely illegal.


The gangs and the entirety of the DEA.


The DEA fits most definitions of a gang. They're just one the government has given a monopoly on force.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ghostbear » Wed Jul 18, 2012 5:59 pm UTC

It's not mentioned in the article, but how exactly do they handle the treatment for users of drugs that aren't harmful or addictive such as pot? It's a nice and smart approach -- helping people does a lot more to get solve problems than shoving them in a jail cell for a while, and no one should be surprised -- that I wish we'd see more of (especially here in the states), but I am curious as to how it handles that.

Ormurinn wrote:The DEA fits most definitions of a gang.

No, they don't fit any definition of gang barring the informal one. Even that is a poor fit, and within the interpretation needed would require all large entities to be gangs.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:11 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:The DEA fits most definitions of a gang.

No, they don't fit any definition of gang barring the informal one. Even that is a poor fit, and within the interpretation needed would require all large entities to be gangs.


They commit petty theft and armed robbery on a daily basis when they confiscate drugs. They aren't prosecuted for it, but that's due to errors in the legal system, not the facts of what they do.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby folkhero » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:22 pm UTC

Merriam-Webster: b : group: as (1) : a group of persons working together (2) : a group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends; especially : a band of antisocial adolescents
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ghostbear » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:27 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:They commit petty theft and armed robbery on a daily basis when they confiscate drugs. They aren't prosecuted for it, but that's due to errors in the legal system, not the facts of what they do.

Not if you use a full definition of petty theft (prior site didn't have one) that has a concern for the legal definition:
A definition wrote:the generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker's use (including potential sale). In many states, if the value of the property taken is low (for example, less than $500) the crime is "petty theft," but it is "grand theft" for larger amounts, designated misdemeanor, or felony, respectively. Theft is synonymous with "larceny." Although robbery (taking by force), burglary (taken by entering unlawfully), and embezzlement (stealing from an employer) are all commonly thought of as theft, they are distinguished by the means and methods used, and are separately designated as those types of crimes in criminal charges and statutory punishments.

Emphasis added. So, no. They don't actually commit petty theft or armed robbery. There's a lot of flaws with law enforcement in the US, but just taking your general hate of government and adding misinformation to it does not actually improve anything.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:33 pm UTC

Ormurinn, I absolutely agree with the implication you're making that the US government's enforcement of drug laws can sometimes be corrupt, perverse, and separated only by a veneer of 'legality' from criminal behavior--I'd even go so far as to say that I wouldn't be surprised to see that the DEA contains strong elements of this (I don't know, but the revelation of it wouldn't shock me) in the form of unnecessary seizures and the unnecessary application of violence--but calling the DEA a gang is a bit hyperbolic and misrepresentative.

I don't think many people would disagree with where you're going with this (we need to seriously rethink drug laws and the organizations we use to enforce them), but the way you're presenting it is a bit extreme. 'The DEA is a corrupt institution that, in many ways, would be severely harmed by decriminalizing possession of drugs in the US' probably gets you where you want to go. I.e., in some twisted ways, the DEA may have just as much incentive to keep people addicted to drugs as gangs do.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby SlyReaper » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:43 pm UTC

It angers me that so many governments ignore stuff like this. I mean, we like to think of our political leaders as out-of-touch cretins, but they're not really that stupid. They must realise on an intellectual level how ruinous it is to so many lives to enforce prohibition like this. But they carry on doing it because it lets various drug enforcement agencies justify their paychecks, and because they fear losing votes from the Think Of The Children Brigade.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Belial » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:53 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:Merriam-Webster: b : group: as (1) : a group of persons working together (2) : a group of persons working to unlawful or antisocial ends; especially : a band of antisocial adolescents


Depending on your POV, the continuation of prohibition and the ever-increasing incarceration of the nonviolent is actually a pretty antisocial end.

But I agree with Hippo, the "gang" vs "not gang" argument is pretty stupid when it's much easier to agree that they're fuckheads and not helping, regardless.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:55 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:It angers me that so many governments ignore stuff like this. I mean, we like to think of our political leaders as out-of-touch cretins, but they're not really that stupid. They must realise on an intellectual level how ruinous it is to so many lives to enforce prohibition like this. But they carry on doing it because it lets various drug enforcement agencies justify their paychecks, and because they fear losing votes from the Think Of The Children Brigade.
There was an article posted here a while back concerning a Norwegian prison (I think?) which consisted of an island where prisoners were free to wander or whatever. The program is interesting; only certain prisoners qualify. The cost is negligible (you don't need a lot of guards to look after an island, apparently, and the colony is self-sufficient) and the recidivism rates are alarmingly low--as in 'holy shit there are no places in the WORLD with recidivism rates that low'. But despite it saving tax-payers money--despite it leading to criminals who are less likely to commit more crime--despite it looking, on every level, like a really BRILLIANT idea--it won't catch on anywhere else. Why? Because it doesn't punish criminals enough.

Because we have to punish criminals. Because it's not fair if someone does something bad and doesn't get beaten for it. People need to be punished for making bad decisions, even if punishing them for bad decisions only leads to more people making more bad decisions. Because we're so obsessed with the idea of reciprocity that we can't for a moment stop obsessing over 'criminals' and start obsessing over solutions to end crime.

People who oppose the Norwegian model inevitably argue that it's not right to coddle criminals. I imagine people who would oppose Portugal's model would say the same about addicts: It's not right to coddle them. Often, people who do support these programs are characterized as being obsessed with treating 'bad people' as softly as possible. But that's backwards: It's not me who's obsessed with criminals and addicts. It's them. They're obsessed with punishing them so much that they can't put that obsession aside for one moment, just one second, and try to look at the bigger picture: That we should do whatever it takes to make society a better place in which to live.

It's the sort of mindset that, in its desperation to punish the fox for eating the chickens, burns down the hen-house, the barn, and all the surrounding land.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ghostbear » Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:56 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:It angers me that so many governments ignore stuff like this. I mean, we like to think of our political leaders as out-of-touch cretins, but they're not really that stupid. They must realise on an intellectual level how ruinous it is to so many lives to enforce prohibition like this. But they carry on doing it because it lets various drug enforcement agencies justify their paychecks, and because they fear losing votes from the Think Of The Children Brigade.

Honestly, I think it's more the Think Of The Children BS than the preservation of government agencies. In the US, one party has basically spent the past few years having internal fights about who can cut the most from the most agencies, and while the other party doesn't hate agencies, they'd love to be able to shift that direct and indirect funding towards health care, research, infrastructure, or similar. Both parties, however, are horribly beholden to the idea of looking tough on crime. The amount of work it'd take to educate those specific voters on the fact that it is in their best interests to fix these issues would be greater than it'd take to move other, larger groups, to change their vote.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:10 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:There was an article posted here a while back concerning a Norwegian prison (I think?) which consisted of an island where prisoners were free to wander or whatever. The program is interesting; only certain prisoners qualify. The cost is negligible (you don't need a lot of guards to look after an island, apparently, and the colony is self-sufficient) and the recidivism rates are alarmingly low--as in 'holy shit there are no places in the WORLD with recidivism rates that low'. But despite it saving tax-payers money--despite it leading to criminals who are less likely to commit more crime--despite it looking, on every level, like a really BRILLIANT idea--it won't catch on anywhere else. Why? Because it doesn't punish criminals enough.

Because we have to punish criminals. Because it's not fair if someone does something bad and doesn't get beaten for it. People need to be punished for making bad decisions, even if punishing them for bad decisions only leads to more people making more bad decisions. Because we're so obsessed with the idea of reciprocity that we can't for a moment stop obsessing over 'criminals' and start obsessing over solutions to end crime.


I have to wonder if that also works because you are teaching criminals how to live together rather than how screw each other over (figuratively and/or literally),especially without all the constant torture. And yes, I consider being forced into a crowded room with violent criminals to be a mild form of torture, to say nothing of the beatings and rape that are so prevalent in the system. Spend a few weeks with some basic necessities, and if you want anything else you have to build it or work with others to build it.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Garm » Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:42 pm UTC

We often mistake vengeance for justice. I'm not sure that drug sentencing falls into this so much but we do have this problem.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Lucrece » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:20 am UTC

I just don't understand why it's so hard that instead of looking at people who are dealing/buying drugs, they aren't looking into WHY people buy drugs, and why our society encourages drug use (include legal penalties as you want, but drug use for recreational purposes remains fairly popular and is a problem, such as absurd alcohol consumption and a culture of partying and socialization that requires the presence of alcohol to be considered a proper event). It would just be much better if we found a way have people not want to use the drugs or drinks, to not attach such positive thoughts and emotions to these substances.

It just seems odd why it's considered ridiculous to have juice or soda in a social event over alcohol, because alcohol is somehow more adult or less pathetic. Or the worrying excuse that people want to alter their state of consciousness.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Jave D » Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:17 pm UTC

That's not really an excuse, that is a primary motivating factor.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:20 pm UTC

And it's not even a problematic one, until it begins to override the desire to meet one's social responsibilities.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Triangle_Man » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:59 am UTC

A good justice system should give criminal punishment and criminal prevention equal measure.

And I still can't see any reason beyond 'society says so' for why some drugs are considered a-okay or 'not drugs' while others are BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD, right?
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby CorruptUser » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:18 am UTC

Triangle_Man wrote:A good justice system should give criminal punishment and criminal prevention equal measure.


How much of an increase in recidivism is worth the extra punishment? For example, if you could treat the mugger and have a 1 in 10 chance of the person re-offending, how much torture would be worth having a 1 in 9 chance of recidivism?

Triangle_Man wrote:And I still can't see any reason beyond 'society says so' for why some drugs are considered a-okay or 'not drugs' while others are BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD, right?


Yes, it's arbitrary, but sometimes inertia is the only reason needed. Alcohol and tobacco have been part of the culture for so long that any attempts to remove them are met with resistance from a huge portion of the population, enough to swing an election or two or all. Powder cocaine has only existed for a little more than a century, and has only been in significant recreational use since the 70s. Marijuana had only seen widespread use in the US for maybe 2 decades longer. The people that regularly use the illegal drugs are too few to swing the elections in order to legalize the drugs, at least compared to the number of people opposed to the drugs.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Steroid » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:06 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Because we have to punish criminals. Because it's not fair if someone does something bad and doesn't get beaten for it. People need to be punished for making bad decisions, even if punishing them for bad decisions only leads to more people making more bad decisions. Because we're so obsessed with the idea of reciprocity that we can't for a moment stop obsessing over 'criminals' and start obsessing over solutions to end crime.

People who oppose the Norwegian model inevitably argue that it's not right to coddle criminals. I imagine people who would oppose Portugal's model would say the same about addicts: It's not right to coddle them. Often, people who do support these programs are characterized as being obsessed with treating 'bad people' as softly as possible. But that's backwards: It's not me who's obsessed with criminals and addicts. It's them. They're obsessed with punishing them so much that they can't put that obsession aside for one moment, just one second, and try to look at the bigger picture: That we should do whatever it takes to make society a better place in which to live.

By that logic, every first principle is an obsession. You're obsessed with making society a better place to live. Personally, I care more about abstract justice than utilitarian benefits. If people want to commit crimes against each other, they should be punished after the fact, not prevented before.

None of which has anything to do with drugs. Yes, I would imagine that a lot of addiction is based on the forbidden fruit concept. We love to throw money at problems; how about trying to develop safe recreational drugs? Then we could all be addicts and it wouldn't matter. That's the kind of societal betterment I can get behind.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:11 pm UTC

Steroid wrote:By that logic, every first principle is an obsession. You're obsessed with making society a better place to live. Personally, I care more about abstract justice than utilitarian benefits.
Then nothing you have to say about the way criminal justice should be structured interests me in the slightest.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Jave D » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:39 pm UTC

Steroid wrote:We love to throw money at problems; how about trying to develop safe recreational drugs? Then we could all be addicts and it wouldn't matter. That's the kind of societal betterment I can get behind.


What would the qualities of a "safe recreational drug" be? I would bet you that any list you could come up with here would either not be safe or not be recreational.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby ahammel » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:44 pm UTC

Jave D wrote:
Steroid wrote:We love to throw money at problems; how about trying to develop safe recreational drugs? Then we could all be addicts and it wouldn't matter. That's the kind of societal betterment I can get behind.


What would the qualities of a "safe recreational drug" be? I would bet you that any list you could come up with here would either not be safe or not be recreational.

Presumably they would be neither particularly addictive nor likely to land you in a hostpital.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Belial » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:21 pm UTC

So...Pot and most Hallucinogens/Entheogens?
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ghostbear » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:51 pm UTC

Steroid wrote:You're obsessed with making society a better place to live.

Yeah, how dare we try to make society better! Rights aren't valued for their own sake -- they are liked because we expect that they will make society better, and not just on average in the short term, but in a broad, long term, sense.

Steroid wrote:We love to throw money at problems; how about trying to develop safe recreational drugs? Then we could all be addicts and it wouldn't matter.

Except the addiction is a huge problem in and of itself. You can't be an addict and have it not matter at the same time. Addiction can make completely healthy things (e.g. alcohol, gambling) into extremely ruinous activities for individuals. If you develop a "safe" drug but it is conductive to addictions, then it is most certainly not safe.

Though as Belial pointed out, we already have safe, non-addictive drugs. Which are sadly kept illegal more by force of "changing it would make the people in charge look dumb for a little while & we've spent years convincing them that we need to protect their children from this stuff" than anything else.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby folkhero » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:18 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:Except the addiction is a huge problem in and of itself. You can't be an addict and have it not matter at the same time. Addiction can make completely healthy things (e.g. alcohol, gambling) into extremely ruinous activities for individuals. If you develop a "safe" drug but it is conductive to addictions, then it is most certainly not safe.

Like caffeine?
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Jave D » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:49 pm UTC

There is no such thing as a safe, non-addictive drug - not for drug addicts.

I can't tell you how many times I smoked up in the morning (and day and night and always) based on the justification that hey, pot is not addictive. Hey, did I ever blow a guy for pot? No? Woot, non addictive! Never had marijuana detox, so, non addictive! But psychological addiction is just as powerful as physical addiction; and generally one who has the latter will have already gotten in the grip of the former. It's hard to get to the point of drinking booze so often and much that you get the DTs without the existing psychological obsession. And it's easy to dismiss it, especially with the pot thing, as being unimportant or pathetic or funny.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ghostbear » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:14 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:Like caffeine?

If caffeine actually results in rather serious addictions and has a tendency for such, then yes. Perhaps I should have specified serious addiction originally -- I don't know if that changes the relevance of caffeine. Sorry about that.

Jave D wrote:There is no such thing as a safe, non-addictive drug - not for drug addicts.

I know, but if it's not a physical/chemical addiction then you're at a different kind of addiction, similar to a gambling addiction. Those are serious, horrible addictions, and any predilection that an activity has for causing them should be taken seriously. The item isn't naturally and always dangerous however -- it's dangerous if it is used improperly or people at risk are allowed to use it. An important distinction in my mind.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby ahammel » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:01 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
folkhero wrote:Like caffeine?

If caffeine actually results in rather serious addictions and has a tendency for such, then yes. Perhaps I should have specified serious addiction originally -- I don't know if that changes the relevance of caffeine. Sorry about that.

Habitual caffeine use does in fact result in physical dependency, and caffeine withdrawl blows. It certainly won't kill you, but splitting headaches do not make for a fun time.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby folkhero » Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:03 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
folkhero wrote:Like caffeine?

If caffeine actually results in rather serious addictions and has a tendency for such, then yes. Perhaps I should have specified serious addiction originally -- I don't know if that changes the relevance of caffeine. Sorry about that.

I guess that would depend on how you define serious. Most of the reasons that caffeine addiction is usually seen as not serious are societal: it's cheep, easily obtained and legal most places and its use is socially acceptable.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ghostbear » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:12 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:I guess that would depend on how you define serious. Most of the reasons that caffeine addiction is usually seen as not serious are societal: it's cheep, easily obtained and legal most places and its use is socially acceptable.

I would probably base a lot of the seriousness of an addiction based on a combination of the withdrawal symptoms, how long the withdrawal lasts, how easy it is to acquire the physical addiction, and how long it takes between uses to trigger those symptoms. If caffeine withdrawal makes you feel like shit for a day or two then you can move on and forget about it, I don't consider that serious. If it makes you non-functional for long periods of time then I would probably consider it serious.

Or maybe a simpler metric: if you wanted to get off that addiction and are unlikely to need professional outside help, then it probably isn't a serious addiction. If you are likely to need that professional help to get off the addiction, then it's probably a serious one.

I'll readily admit neither method of definition is perfect, and there will always be edge cases. But it's just meant to get at what I'm thinking of.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Qaanol » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:39 am UTC

Good on Portugal, I hope other countries follow suit quickly, and take the extra step of recognizing each person’s right to do what he or she wants with his or her body as long as it does not harm anyone else.

Ghostbear wrote:Except the addiction is a huge problem in and of itself. You can't be an addict and have it not matter at the same time. Addiction can make completely healthy things (e.g. alcohol, gambling) into extremely ruinous activities for individuals. If you develop a "safe" drug but it is conductive to addictions, then it is most certainly not safe.


Ghostbear wrote:I would probably base a lot of the seriousness of an addiction based on a combination of the withdrawal symptoms, how long the withdrawal lasts, how easy it is to acquire the physical addiction, and how long it takes between uses to trigger those symptoms.


In This Thread: Ghostbear considers water to be the most seriously addictive drug, and that addiction to water causes huge problems.

Ghostbear is correct on both counts, but that is still no reason to ban the consumption of a chemical, just because it is seriously addictive.

Moreover, even if some specific drug is inherently harmful, making it illegal to use that drug will not necessarily decrease its use, and in fact may well create additional problems whereby street prices skyrocket and addicts must turn to theft in order to get their fix, which previously had been affordable.

(Similarly, even if assault rifles make mass shooting much worse, a law banning such guns will not necessarily prevent “bad guys” from getting ahold of them, and will for the most part serve only to place yet another restriction on what law-abiding citizens can do.)

In other words, even if completely eliminating, say, crack cocaine, would make the world a better place, that does not at all guarantee the world would be made better by outlawing crack. Indeed, a prohibition like that could quite easily make the world worse.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Ghostbear » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:50 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:In This Thread: Ghostbear considers water to be the most seriously addictive drug, and that addiction to water causes huge problems.

Or you confused the word definition for reliance. I would assume that anything that is necessary to continue living would not qualify as an addiction. Otherwise I have a breathing addiction, and a heartbeat addiction, and a thinking addiction, and a base sustenance addiction, and...

Qaanol wrote:Ghostbear is correct on both counts, but that is still no reason to ban the consumption of a chemical, just because it is seriously addictive.

I agree. I was just pointing out that Steroid was wrong to say that we could all be addicts without any harm when the addiction could be quite a significant harm in and of itself. That doesn't mean the best option is to ban the item in question, it just means that you can't really call it "safe" if it is conductive to serious addictions.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Qaanol » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:17 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:you can't really call it "safe" if it is conductive to serious addictions.

I think we have a fundamental disagreement here. You appear to hold the position that addiction, in and of itself, is intrinsically harmful. On the other hand I, and apparently several others in this thread, contend that addiction itself is neither beneficial nor harmful. Thus, something which has no other harmful effects, but which is addictive, can indeed be considered safe.

I would say caffeine is no more harmful than any other mild diuretic stimulant, and the fact of its being addictive has little or no bearing on its beneficial or harmful nature. Smoking tobacco is detrimental because it causes lung cancer (among other problems), and alcohol is harmful because it is a poison (to the liver and the brain) and because it directly leads to dangerous activities such as drunk driving. The fact that they are addictive exacerbates those problems because the addiction causes people to continue using the harmful substances, but addiction itself is not a problem for non-harmful substances.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Jave D » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:01 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
Jave D wrote:There is no such thing as a safe, non-addictive drug - not for drug addicts.

I know, but if it's not a physical/chemical addiction then you're at a different kind of addiction, similar to a gambling addiction. Those are serious, horrible addictions, and any predilection that an activity has for causing them should be taken seriously. The item isn't naturally and always dangerous however -- it's dangerous if it is used improperly or people at risk are allowed to use it. An important distinction in my mind.


I disagree. Psychological or physical; it's the same result in the end. Financial loss, destroyed families, destroyed lives. Most alcoholics, for example, are not suffering merely from a physical dependency - if they were, they could simply detox (for however long that takes - a week maybe, a few weeks, a few days depending) and then boom their addiction is cured because the physical dependency is gone. Yet alcoholics do not behave this way at all, because they have a psychological addiction. And there are plenty too who only rarely (or even never) get to the stage of having a physical dependency at all, yet are ravaged all the same. I would say that when it comes to substance abuse of any kind, psychological addiction is the most devious and powerful and nigh-untreatable form, with the physical dependency relatively minor. And considering how bad I know physical dependencies can become (potentially fatal) that is saying a lot that the psychological aspect is worse. The point is, most addicts and alcoholics are psychologically dependent long before and long after any physical aspect, with the physical aspect being mainly a symptom.

I agree that the item isn't naturally and inherently always dangerous - however it's very unlikely most people know they are at risk of becoming alcoholic or addicts before they use them, so it's hard to make even a good suggestion as far as who should and shouldn't do it. And once one gets drunk or high the addiction is on already and it's a bit too late.

And looking at caffeine, well its health effects include risk of higher blood pressure and a correlation with heart diseases. I've seen estimates that 75% of the population (US) is addicted (whether physically or psychologically!) to caffeinated beverages, and of course heart disease is one of the top causes of death in this country.

Lastly, with regards to Qaanol's comment, I would say that "addiction" being neither harmful nor beneficial is a rather shaky proposition. It's a rather broad subject, but again using the example of substance abuse - one who is using even a "safe" substance in an addictive manner is probably causing fallout in his or her social and family life due to not being there because of the obsessive need to continue to use it. Now, if this is not the case, I would argue against that person having "addiction" at all, but that would be because I define addiction (as with alcoholism) as an inherently harmful condition (if it's truly not harmful, it's not addiction as I know it.) But this comes down to definitions.

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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Belial » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:37 am UTC

You can have a psychological addiction to literally anything. What makes a drug with a non-physical addiction different? I mean, if we illegalize everything that you can develop a life-destroying psychological addiction to, we'd basically criminalize existence.
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Re: Portugal halving number of drug addicts in a decade

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:48 am UTC

Jave D wrote:
Ghostbear wrote:
Jave D wrote:There is no such thing as a safe, non-addictive drug - not for drug addicts.

I know, but if it's not a physical/chemical addiction then you're at a different kind of addiction, similar to a gambling addiction. Those are serious, horrible addictions, and any predilection that an activity has for causing them should be taken seriously. The item isn't naturally and always dangerous however -- it's dangerous if it is used improperly or people at risk are allowed to use it. An important distinction in my mind.


I disagree. Psychological or physical; it's the same result in the end. Financial loss, destroyed families, destroyed lives. Most alcoholics, for example, are not suffering merely from a physical dependency - if they were, they could simply detox (for however long that takes - a week maybe, a few weeks, a few days depending) and then boom their addiction is cured because the physical dependency is gone. Yet alcoholics do not behave this way at all, because they have a psychological addiction. And there are plenty too who only rarely (or even never) get to the stage of having a physical dependency at all, yet are ravaged all the same. I would say that when it comes to substance abuse of any kind, psychological addiction is the most devious and powerful and nigh-untreatable form, with the physical dependency relatively minor. And considering how bad I know physical dependencies can become (potentially fatal) that is saying a lot that the psychological aspect is worse. The point is, most addicts and alcoholics are psychologically dependent long before and long after any physical aspect, with the physical aspect being mainly a symptom.


Belial wrote:You can have a psychological addiction to literally anything. What makes a drug with a non-physical addiction different? I mean, if we illegalize everything that you can develop a life-destroying psychological addiction to, we'd basically criminalize existence.


Other than criminalizing everything, what would you propose, Jave D, to deal with the problems of addiction? From my perspective, what you've been saying is a pretty good argument for using the Portuguese model. I believe that the Netherlands and Switzerland use similar models that have also been drastically more effective than the American war on drugs model.


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