Addiction haunts the recesses of this ancient port city, as people with gaunt, clumsy hands lift crack pipes to lips, syringes to veins. Authorities are sealing off warren-like alleyways with iron bars and fencing in parks to halt the spread of encampments. A siege mentality is taking root in nearby enclaves of pricey condos and multimillion-euro homes.
Portugal decriminalized all drug use, including marijuana, cocaine and heroin, in an experiment that inspired similar efforts elsewhere, but now police are blaming a spike in the number of people who use drugs for a rise in crime. In one neighborhood, state-issued paraphernalia — powder-blue syringe caps, packets of citric acid for diluting heroin — litters sidewalks outside an elementary school.
…as opposed to the “traditional” derelict with his bottle of cheap liquor?
Michigan has gotten on board with the loot that can be made off gambling. Besides the state lottery, there are several casinos around, and, now, on line gambling and sportsbook betting, so you can pee your money away at any hour of day or night…and now the state Gaming Commission is running TV commercials very reminiscent of the anti-drug ads of the 80s, warning you can lose your job, your home, and your family, by losing control of your gambling.
Cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, etc., should be made available at prices tactically set to always undercut street dealers, but those drugs should only be available for use within controlled settings structured with social services and availability of anti-addictive drugs to help users escape their addiction(s).
Society, especially in schools but also in workplaces, bars/restaurants, churches and etc should teach and support “never getting addicted and finding escape when addicted” techniques and strategies. I was brought up with that, as Dad made his intense and extremely difficult struggle to quit smoking tobacco an ongoing teaching moment for me and my sibs and our friends. It took him almost a year.
I am convinced that addictiona are more a sign of serious communal/social breakdowns than personal failures, and that our wanting to pin the blame on addicts and street dealers is the prime reason we endlessly fruitlessly expensively tragically “lose” the idiotic “war on drugs.”
(writing from Mexico, ground central of the destruction wrought by our sick society and idiotic policies)
My theory goes a step further. I believe most people are addicted to something. Those that are addicted to work are praised for their efforts. Those who are addicted to their family are praised for the care they give. Those addicted to learning are praised for being studious. Those addicted to a sports team or a hobby or other endeavors have fun with their addiction.
But some get addicted to things like drugs (both legal and illegal), alcohol, or promiscuous relationships. And they are looked down upon for their addiction.
At the core, addiction isn’t the problem, it’s what you’re addicted TO that is the problem.
Hey, I really like that summary POV, and it does fit closely with what I have seen around me all my life.
I had the tremendous good fortune (gentle parental nudging helped) to become addicted to reading, “dawn patrol” surfing, and crazed engineering experimentation at a young age. Did not leave much room for alcohol or maryjane, let alone stronger stuff. My favorite proposed substitute addiction for friends who have been struggling with strong stuff has been long distance scenic running powered by music (especially Bach and Coltrane), with a successful run rewarded with sex.
A reasonable theory in theory. However, in practice it ends up being a bit more complicated than that. Quite apart from the obvious biochemical changes that come about from long term substance misuse, one obvious difference between the “honorable” and brag-worthy sort-of addictions mentioned and, say, cocaine, opioids, alcohol etc, is that any harm tends to be to the individual (I’m discounting extreme examples of “addiction to family”, say, resulting in estranged spouses injuring their partner as I’m sure it’s not what you meant) Those addicted to actual addictive substances are prone to harming others…either directly when attempting to obtain illicit drugs or indirectly in the case of “prescription medications” resulting in a prohibitionist attitude that makes it hard for those who legitimately require such pain relief to get it.
Some cities have tried part of that, providing clean syringes and “safe” places to inject. Of course, the “anti-woke” brigade vilifies those programs as “enabling”, because it goes against their puritanical, punishment oriented, “values” of making people suffer, and maybe die, from their weaknesses. One or two Sheriffs in Ohio forbid their deputies to carry Narcan, preferring to let addicts die, rather than pay for the Narcan to revive them, while a program in metro Detroit stocks boxes on the street with Narcan, free for the taking.