“It’s not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems [drug addiction]… what’s hard is to decide to do it.” Robert Downey Jnr (2004)
This is where assisted decision-making is imperative.
No matter how functional the regular drug user may appear, the drug addled brain has corrupted processes due to the presence and interference of psychotropic toxins. Whilst we may not be able to ‘arrest our way’ out of this issue, we will not be able to ‘treat our way’ out alone either. It is a more complete process, as with all behaviour change, that requires all educative and legislative measures coalescing into drug use reduction, not just attempting to reduce harms of a permitted drug use model.
This gives added weight to why a Judicial Educator is not only needed but is best placed to be engaged through problem-solving courts as a key circuit breaker needed to help facilitate drug exiting. Punitive action is not necessary, if these mechanisms are able to recalibrate the drug user into the recovery processes. But changing the status of drug use to ‘decriminalized’ is a step backwards in best-practice. It eliminates this vital, individual and community benefiting intervention and also increases drug use induced harms.
Anti-drug laws were always meant to be a vehicle to protect community, family6 and our most important asset – our children#1 – from multiple harms caused by permission models that adults believe they have the individual right#2 to exercise around the use of addictive and destructive psychotropic toxins.
It is important to underscore that the current proactive and protective laws have not been used in any real punitive context for decades. They are part of a proactive framework – As the ‘Judicial Educator’.7
An example of drug laws used in non-punitive context includes Problem Solving Courts,8 to facilitate not only exit from drug use but passage into productive, safe, health and community benefiting narratives.#3
The current laws do not require removal but can continue as a mechanism to facilitate rehabilitation and recovery, with great success. 9 The existing criminal codes do not need to be weakened or worse erased through legalisation or decriminalisation but used for diversion from drug use and harms.
No criminal records need be recorded if the diversion path is embraced effectively.
The pro-drug lobby’s completely fallacious meme of ‘war on drugs has failed’ reverses the real causes and effects of drug harms and violence. There has been no ‘war on drugs’ in this nation since 1985. Instead there is an ever growing ‘war FOR drugs’10 as it continues to look to remove genuine tools that can bring best-practice drug use exiting outcomes and instead mislabels and propagandises these genuine efforts as ‘wars’ against drug users.
The Judicial educator is the one bookend to the corresponding health and education. Together these ensure a cohesive and compassionate message as experienced for decades with combating tobacco addiction and its attending harms, a community with One Voice, Once Message and One Focus. This should be the agenda of all drug use reduction vehicles.11
The removal of the protective legal vehicle that would otherwise compel people into treatment, will instead only assist in adding to, not only individual drug harms, but harms to our more vulnerable communities and their families – and particularly to our children.
Once psychotropic toxins are an entrenched part of the behavioural mechanisms of an individual, whether it be short-term intoxication, or long-term dependency, the risk to health, safety and well-being of that individual and more concerningly, those around them requires more than a ‘doctor’ for change. 12 Secure welfare engaged for rehabilitation continues to prove the safest and healthiest vehicle to assist that change.13
Do these changes indicate that as a society there is more concern for tobacco users than illicit drug users? The latter deserve the same passionate assistance to exit drug use rather than any further enhancement or endorsement.
Any permission model – decriminalisation, legalisation or depenalization – that does not add to that capacity of drug users to move out of drug use is a counterproductive measure.14 Consequently, the drug using individual will more readily continue use if the only proactively coercive vehicle – the law – is removed, further normalizing drug use and the inevitable harms that follow.
For the safety and future of not only the current drug user, but the protection of families and the most vulnerable in our community – our children – the legal status must remain unchanged. Yet re-tasked for better outcomes. The Dalgarno Institute is available to dialogue and assist in formulating this re-tasking.
It is important to glean all the evidence-based facts about models prior to profiling them as options, particularly models that have either failed or are being reviewed due to poor outcomes and/or just plain limited, inaccurate or misrepresentative data.
For a thorough and clinical review of the Portugal Drug Policy Framework go to Portugal Drug Policy – A Review of the Evidence 15
The Judicial Educator: Law for Recovery + Drug Courts + Secure Welfare = Rehabilitation!16