Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy

Theoretical Foundation of Portugal’s Decision to Decriminalize Drugs

Portugal’s decision to decriminalize drugs best fits with the rehabilitation theory. According to the source, Portugal significantly moved from incarceration to the use of medical professionals to help combat drug abuse during its zenith. The country’s policy hinged on three primary pillars. Firstly, they adopted the idea that no hard or soft drug exists except for unhealthy or healthy relationships with illicit substances. Secondly, they reckoned that an individual’s connection with drugs was indicative of some issue with their loved ones or those with whom they interacted. Thirdly, the country acknowledged the near impossibility of eradicating all drugs.

As outlined in the first and second pillars above, Portugal adopted a more personalized approach to tackling the drug menace. The nation increasingly employed the help of medical professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists, to help bring individuals back from their addiction states (Ferreira 1). The professionals labored with each addict to unearth the reasons behind their drug abuse tendencies to help them overcome their challenges in life. Moreover, the nation undertook measures to alter people’s perceptions of drugs. The officials sought to make the citizens understand and appreciate drug abuse’s full consequences on their health and society’s wellness. Over time, people linked broken marriages, lost jobs, school dropouts, and soaring HIV rates with drug abuse and sought practical help from medical personnel to overcome their addictions. Such is in line with the rehabilitation theory concepts that adopt personalized efforts at helping criminals and reshaping their lives to become better, productive, and law-abiding citizens.

Positives to the Policy Decision

There are essential positives in the approach taken by Portugal to combat drug abuse. The source states that efforts aimed at causing the public to understand the adverse impacts of drug addiction and peddling on self and the larger public caused addicts to seek help without coercion. Consequently, when one relapsed into drug abuse, they took it upon themselves to go back to their psychologists and doctors for guidance and advice (Ferreira 1). Such was a stark deviation from the previous punitive approach, where criminals never comprehended the reasons for incarceration and did not appreciate the law enforcers’ meddling’ in their personal lives. Such measures resulted in tactics that sought evasion from police surveillance and detection. People could still abuse drugs clandestinely with the arrest and imprisonment method. On the other hand, the reshaping of public opinion on drug abuse did much to cause addicts to want and seek the change out of their own volition.

Possibility for the United States to Do the Same Thing

The United States could also adopt a similar approach with much success. A closer look at the prevailing condition in the US indicates a situation where the media celebrates drug abuse rather than educating the people concerning its dangers. The US media, especially music, movies, and series, frame drug abuse as a ‘cool’ phenomenon. Such media portrayals go a long way in exacerbating the problem in the country and other parts of the world that watch such productions. Thus, Portugal acted differently by engaging in deliberate public education to stress the impacts of drug addiction on society (Ferreira 1). The US could also involve media personalities and producers to become more aware of the drug abuse menace and help reshape public opinion therein.

Furthermore, the US could do the same as Portugal by ensuring better community presence to tackle abuse problems. Such involves having more medical personnel and rehabilitation experts to help communities deal with their drug abuse challenges. Patient-centered rehabilitation is critical, as seen in Portugal, as it allows professionals to understand the factors that lead every person to abuse drugs to help them personally. Such an approach is better than the blanket arrests and incarcerations that only result in evasion tactics in the streets.

Works Cited

Ferreira, Sussana. “Decriminalization: A Love Story.” The Common, Web.

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LawBirdie. (2023, October 4). Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy. Retrieved from https://lawbirdie.com/portugals-drug-decriminalization-policy/


LawBirdie. (2023, October 4). Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy. https://lawbirdie.com/portugals-drug-decriminalization-policy/

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"Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy." LawBirdie, 4 Oct. 2023, lawbirdie.com/portugals-drug-decriminalization-policy/.


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy'. 4 October.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy." October 4, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/portugals-drug-decriminalization-policy/.

1. LawBirdie. "Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy." October 4, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/portugals-drug-decriminalization-policy/.


LawBirdie. "Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy." October 4, 2023. https://lawbirdie.com/portugals-drug-decriminalization-policy/.