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Basic Facts About the War on Drugs

11. How does our policy compare with the policies of other countries?

Europe is beginning to form uniform drug laws as a result of European unification. Europe is decriminalizing drugs along the lines of the programs used in England and the Netherlands. Most of the countries have already approved the Frankfort Accord, which adopts decriminalization as the primary approach to drugs.

Let's compare the results of two roughly comparable major cities which both have a drug problem. The cities are New York, and Liverpool, England.

  • In New York, heroin and cocaine addicts suffer from tremendous medical problems. In Liverpool, England, most heroin and cocaine addicts suffer few medical problems.
  • In New York, most drug addicts are unemployed criminals. In Liverpool, most drug addicts are gainfully employed taxpayers.
  • In New York, crime committed by drug addicts is a major problem. In Liverpool, it is a very minor problem.
  • In New York, drug addicts often have their children taken away and live under miserable conditions. In Liverpool, most addicts live with their families in stable homes and manage to raise healthy, well-adjusted children.
  • In New York, thousands of babies are permanently damaged every year by their mother's drug use. In Liverpool, health authorities report no cases of harm to infants as a result of their mother's drug use.
  • In New York, sixty percent of all intravenous drug users are infected with AIDS, and they are a major cause of the spread of AIDS. In Liverpool, only one percent of the intravenous drug users are infected with AIDS and they are a very minor source of infection for the rest of the population.
  • In the United States, drug use is illegal and the police hunt down drug users to throw them in prison. Four thousand people died from illegal drugs in the US last year and we now have more than 600,000 people in prison on drug charges.
  • In Liverpool, England, the police do not arrest drug users any more. Instead, health care workers seek them out and encourage them to come in for counseling and medical treatment. Both counseling and medical treatment are provided on demand. The medical treatment often includes maintenance doses of narcotics under the management of a physician.

Liverpool, England, has adopted the same approach as the Netherlands and has had substantially the same results. They both chose decriminalizatiion.

Many sources, including "Rx Drugs" Sixty Minutes, December 27, 1992.

For additional information and resources on the situation in Europe, see DrugText

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