What to do about drug addicts that are not interested in treatment (yet?) is open to debate. Strict law enforcement would say that the government shouldn’t provide any support to those that are taking illegal action (taking drugs they can’t legally take). And that argument makes some sense. The biggest problem with it is the results of such policies have not been very effective. Society suffers. Should society suffer because taking action to reduce burdens on society can be seen as taking it easy on criminals?
Denmark offers rooms monitored by nurses for drug addicts to use, and crime seems to have been reduced:
Year on year, burglaries in the wider area are down by about 3%, theft from vehicles and violence down about 5%, and possession of weapons also down. “From the police perspective, I can see the benefits,” said Orye. “It feels calmer.”
Critics say that such rooms make it easier for drug users to abuse themselves and send the wrong message. Only five people using Copenhagen’s room have been put on treatment since October.
Petersen, like many others using the room or floating around the courtyard outside, said that she does not want and would never seek treatment. But every day that she comes here to inject she meets health professionals, social workers and people offering treatment in case she suddenly want to rise from rock bottom, say the room’s staff. Petersen might change her mind one day, said Nanna Gotfredsen, a lawyer who campaigned for the room.
Michael Olsen, a local resident who was a key figure in persuading authorities to accept the idea of a consumption room, said that he felt moved to champion the cause when he found addicts taking drugs in his bins, and women urinating in a phone box because all the toilets in the area had been sealed to stop addicts injecting there.
The best strategies for society are not obvious. The last 50 years have not been a very successful period for society dealing with the problems caused by drug addiction. Hopefully we can experiment and find solutions that are better.
I do think we have moved toward more support for treatment for those seeking help to overcome drug addiction and to stay clean. Moving more in that direction seems wise to me.
Related: UK Drug Policy Commission Recommends Decriminalizing Drug Use – Russell Brand’s Testimony on Dealing with Drug Addiction – How Effective is Drug Addiction Treatment? – 2012 National Drug Control Strategy for the USA