- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2011


The Dec. 26 article “Portugal’s drug policy pays off; U.S. eyes lessons” (Associated Press, Web) is scattered with half-truths and skewed statistics that have been neatly packaged.

The optimal way to beat addiction and prevent drug-related harm is a comprehensive strategy effort. This approach ends with the goal of abstinence. America stands firm in its rejection of ineffective harm reduction.

Studies show Portugal is a classic example of what not to do. Drug-induced deaths in Portugal climbed to 314 in 2007 - significantly more than the 280 deaths recorded when decriminalization started in 2001. While heroin accounts for most overdose deaths, consumption rates for amphetamines and cocaine doubled. Cocaine seizures increased sevenfold between 2001 and 2006, making Portugal’s cocaine-seizure rate the sixth-highest in the world.

The claim that HIV cases have dropped couldn’t be further from the truth. Portugal remains the country with the highest incidence of intravenous drug-related AIDS, and it is the only country recording a recent increase. The number of new cases of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C in Portugal recorded among drug users is eight times the average found in other member states of the European Union.

Fortunately, theU.S. has not given up on addicts by offering them their drug of choice and enabling use so that they can remain enslaved in their addiction. We recognize that every drug policy must communicate a message of hope that does not leave any person behind, users or non-users alike.


Executive director

Drug Free America Foundation Inc.

St. Petersburg, Fla.

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