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Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse
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Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Jan 02, 2016

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Page 1: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Chapter 12:Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction

PSY 302: Substance Abuse

Page 2: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Decriminalization & Legalization

Decriminalization An absence of laws punishing people for using drugsDrug trafficking remains a crimeMajor limitation or contradiction involved with this type of policy

Legalization An absence of laws prohibiting use or commerce in drugsDrugs restricted only to those below a certain age or only when used under certain conditions

Page 3: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Decriminalization & Legalization

Viewpoints are variedAddictive drugs were criminalized because they are harmful; they are not harmful because they were criminalizedOur attempt to protect drug users from themselves, has backfired, as it did during the prohibition of alcohol

Page 4: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Decriminalization & Legalization

Pros§There would be a reduction in the resources necessary for drug law enforcement§Criminal organizations that are supported by drug trafficking would be eliminated§The aggressive marketing by traffickers aimed at expanding their customer bases would no longer be operative§Those who are dependent on drugs could lead more normal lives; less energies would be needed to maintain the habit

Page 5: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Decriminalization & Legalization

Pros

5. Less spread of disease related to intravenous use

6. Legalization would enable the use of social controls that inhibit antisocial, albeit lawful, behavior

Page 6: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Decriminalization & Legalization

Cons1.There would be a huge increase in users

2.Cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin freely available to adults could be used by youngsters as easily as cigarettes and alcohol are

3.More people would be tempted to try legalized controlled substances, and lead to misuse

4.Legalizing all psychoactive substances would signal an acceptance

5.The easy availability of currently illegal psychoactive substances would reduce the incentive for to enter drug treatment

Page 7: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Policy: Focus on Causes

To develop a policy that answers these serious concerns, we need to consider the causes of drug use

Theories:

1.Drug use is a disease with a physiological basis.

2.Drug use is a psychological condition or personality disorder.

3.Drug use is a response to oppressive social conditions.

4.Drug use is simply the pleasure-seeking activity of hedonistic individuals.

Page 8: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Models of Legalization

There are three broad models:§Dangerous drugs can be dispensed only through government-controlled clinics or specially licensed medical personnel and only for short-term treatment purposes; unauthorized sale or possession entails criminal penalties§Dangerous drugs can be prescribed by an authorized medical practitioner for treatment or maintenance; criminal penalties are imposed for sale or possession outside medical domain§Dangerous drugs can be sold and used as tobacco and alcohol products are; that is, nonprescription use by adults is permitted

Page 9: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Medical Maintenance Issues

Would place greater trust in the medical profession and allowing physicians to treat addicts with a variety of drugs, including heroinAdded pressures on physiciansQuestions concerning whether the individual is addictedThese clinics would probably not be popular in communitySome drugs would find way into open markets (street dealers)

Page 10: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Medical Maintenance Issues

On the other side of the coin:Legalization would reduce the price of heroin, thereby reducing the incentive for dealing itLower price would also heroin attract addicts in large numbers and

Page 11: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction

In societies that practice this, the use of drugs is accepted as a fact, and focus is placed on reducing harm while use and misuse continue

Main characteristicsPragmatism: Harm reduction accepts that some use of mind-altering substances is a common feature of human experienceHumanistic values: The drug user’s decision to use drugs is acceptedFocus on harms: The fact that a person is using drugs is of secondary importance to the risk of harms consequent to use

Page 12: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction

Main characteristicsBalancing costs and benefits: A pragmatic process of identifying, measuring, and assessing the relative importance of drug-related problems, their associated harms, and costs and benefits of intervention is carried out in order to focus resources on priority issuesPriority of immediate goals: Most harm-reduction programs have a hierarchy of goals, with the immediate focus on proactively engaging individuals, target groups, and communities to address their most pressing needs

Page 13: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction Elsewhere

Netherlands

Dutch policy is based on the idea that drug use is a fact of life and needs to be discouraged in as practical a manner as possibleIn place the “war on drugs” the Dutch have implemented a pragmatic and nonmoralistic approach whose main objective is to minimize the risks associated with drug use, both for users themselves and for those around themThey distinguish between “soft” drugs such as marijuana and “hard” drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and Ecstasy.

Page 14: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction Elsewhere

Netherlands After some drug issues: harm reduction became the focus: If abstinence is not possible, then safer use of drugs and safer sex practices should became short-term goalsDrug users are provided with health-related education and a wide variety of treatment programs are readily available including methadone maintenance Social service facilities include areas where drugs may be safely ingested

Page 15: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction Elsewhere

NetherlandsDrug prevention efforts in the Netherlands treat alcohol and tobacco, as well as heroin and cocaine, as dangerous drugs because legal versus illegal classification is not considered a sound basis for differentiationThe policy seeks to deglamorize drugs The policy stresses individual responsibility

Page 16: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Netherlands

Problems over the Past Decades

Amsterdam permitted drug use rooms where drugs could be consumed; obvious that drug dealers were in chargeEventually these were shut down

Coffee shops becoming centers of criminal activity including large numbers of “drug tourists”Eventually, more stringent restrictions were put in place

Page 17: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Netherlands

Problems over the Past Decades

The Netherlands produces 80% of the world supply of EcstasyOfficials do not consider the substance a major health issue and the government provides facilities where pills can be tested

Amsterdam has become a mecca for drug traffickers and drug traffickingLiberal laws combined with world’s biggest seaport (Rotterdam), making it attractive to shippers of unlawful goods as well as lawful ones

Page 18: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction Elsewhere

PortugalSince 2001, all drugs have been decriminalized to this extent: No criminal penalties exist for the use or possession of drugs for personal use—defined as a ten-day supplyPossession of larger quantities is an administrative offense, like a parking ticketAt the same time, they doubled their investment in treatment and prevention

Page 19: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction Elsewhere

Portugal

A study conducted by the libertarian Cato Institute—which favors legalization reports:There has been a dramatic increase in the number of drug users seeking treatmentSlight increase in heroin usage but decrease in all the other hard drugsMarijuana use decreased

Page 20: Chapter 12: Decriminalization, Legalization, & Harm Reduction PSY 302: Substance Abuse.

Harm Reduction Elsewhere

What do these harm reduction attempts mean insofar as their relation to the United States drug problem? Difficult to sayWe are very different than most other countriesMore research will be done leading to new drug lawsMore legalization seems to be the trend for marijuanaDecriminalization for harder drugs is unlikely in near future