GENEVA, Oct. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Global Commission on Drug Policy today released a position paper on The Opioid Crisis in North America. The members of the Global Commission, several of whom faced similar crises while occupying the highest levels of government, share their views and recommendations on how to mitigate this epidemic.
The Commission warns against cutting the supply of prescription opioids without first having supporting measures in place, and emphasizes the need to improve and expand proven harm reduction services and treatment options, including opioid substitution therapy and heroin-assisted treatment. Regulation of prescription opioids needs to become well-balanced to provide effective pain care while minimizing misuse.
The Global Commission also calls for the de facto decriminalization of drug use and possession for personal use at the municipal, city or State/Province levels, so that people in need of health and social services can access them freely, easily, and without fear of punishment. Finally, the Global Commission suggests allowing pilot projects for the responsible legal regulation of currently illicit drugs including opioids, to bypass criminal organizations that drive and benefit from the black market.
The Global Commission has called for the legal regulation of psychoactive substances since 2011, and sees in the opioid crisis a failure of regulation for medical purposes alone. The opioid crisis, characterized by a transition from licit prescription opioids via their illicit use to illicit heroin, also demonstrates the narrow and arbitrary boundaries that exist between licit and illicit substances.
Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland and Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said: "In 2017, Switzerland celebrated 25 years of heroin-assisted treatment and harm reduction policies. Drug-related deaths dropped by 50% within the first decade of implementation, with an 82% decrease in patients who used to sell heroin on the black market."
Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal and member of the Global Commission said: "In the 1990s, Portugal was experiencing heroin and HIV epidemics with open drug scenes and soaring overdose rates. We responded by changing the approach to drug addiction focusing on it first and foremost as a public health issue. This shift allowed people who use drugs to access services without fear of legal coercion. Today, Portugal has one of the lowest rates of drug overdose deaths in Europe."
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SOURCE Global Commission on Drug Policy