Was the decriminalisation of drugs in July 2001 an effective intervention as a method of harm reduction?

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Was the decriminalisation of drugs in July 2001 an effective intervention as a method of harm reduction?

Background

In the late 1990‟s, drug use was a serious problem in Portugal. A policy change was made in July 2001 to decriminalize all drugs for personal use. Alongside this, a series of harm reduction programs were put in place to get problematic drug users into treatment and dissuade others from beginning new drug use.

Aim

This study aimed to look at several measurable outcomes relating to harm reduction and to decide whether the act of decriminalization reduced the amount of harm caused to society and individuals by drug use.

Method

Database searches were performed to find some evidence based articles but none were found. A search engine was used to gather reports and news articles regarding the effects of decriminalization.
Results – The results showed a decrease in total drug related deaths, decrease in drug use for younger age groups, more drug addicts in treatment for their addiction, decrease in heroin use and an increase in cannabis use. Drug related crime also increased.
Conclusion – Decriminalization of drugs has been an effective intervention as a method of harm reduction.

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