Monday, May 04, 2015

China and drug use

'Breaking Bad' in China: how meth is spreading across rural heartland -

This is a good report about illicit drug use in China.

I didn't realise that even in that country, a substantial change towards harm minimisation has been underway for nearly a decade:

Since 2006, the Chinese authorities have tackled heroin abuse by decriminalizing the drug’s use and opening nearly 900 methadone clinics to wean addicts off it. But no drug like methadone that would help methamphetamine users break their habit has been found, so no such medical approach has been possible.

Some caught using meth are encouraged to attend voluntary detoxification centers; most – especially if they are caught a second time – are sent to compulsory detox facilities in former prisons and held for as long as two years with no judicial or medical intervention.
Methadone programs have been available across the West for decades; clearly, it is even pretty widely used in the US too.

Libertarians, who like slogans and fantasy more than working out the detailed solutions to real, complicated issues, continually use the "war on drugs - oh my God it's a complete failure!" line while ignoring the fact that it seems nearly all nations incorporate a harm minimisation approach to at least this major illicit drug.  (Well, I guess, if they can afford it.   I don't imagine much is available in somewhere like Afghanistan.)

Legalising highly addictive drugs is always going to be problematic, because the costs of addiction at individual, social and economic levels are always likely to be high.

But let's just chant "we have to end this War on Drugs" and leave it there, shall we?

1 comment:

John said...

The Libertarian approach is ideological, not empirical. I do believe in a different response to the drug problem, something like Portugal. Even there though the libertarians misrepresent what is going on.