Why Treat a Problem You Can Criminalize?

Is injection drug use a law enforcement problem or a public health problem? For 20 years the United States has had a strict policy against harm reduction programs, using police and prison as a treatment for drugs. The cost?

The British Medical Journal made this excellent video to discuss this issue. It pains me to put such an amazing video so close to my video, but in this case, the story trumps my pride.

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6 thoughts on “Why Treat a Problem You Can Criminalize?

  1. This video effectively compared and contrasted the law enforcement approach versus the public health approach in preventing HIV spread. I got a comprehensive view of the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches. As the video argues, I agree that the prevention of HIV spread is really more a public health problem. I thought the example of German prisons was great–very convincing! Thanks for sharing this video. Keep up the great posts on your blog!

  2. When evidence-based argument goes up against politics pandering to entrenched cultural morality and biases, it’s usually clear which is going to drive policy. I fear the “war against drugs” will contiune in North America until there is simply no longer the ability to pay for all the havoc it causes and there is political will to say there is a better way.

    I have to say though… the experts in this video aren’t going to be much help if they won’t get off the floor or put on shoes and socks to be interviewed.

  3. Great video! Speaking of TED, Elizabeth Pisani has a great video on this same subject, but goes a little more into the specifics.

    I love that Iran is being so progressive, and the Germany example is really encouraging. I hope some of these other countries will soon follow suit. I was at a conference recently that had a session on harm reduction in the US, and the speakers were doing amazing things in their respective hometowns, but seemed to have no home of policy change on the government level. Such a tragedy when so many infections and complications can be avoided.

  4. Pingback: The Wisdom of Whores. « The Human Side of Hospitals.

  5. Pingback: Politicizing Public Health Issues. « The Human Side of Hospitals.

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