Preventing drug use by pursuing discouragement is a key principle. Preventing drug use can also prevent the consequences of drug use among the population and young people. We must realise that prevention is key to the debate. We have common responsibility to adopt an humane approach and provide appropriate treatment.
Addiction is a chronic by treatable health disorder. This notion will have far-reaching consequences on what approach we adopt towards drug addicts. Abstinence is not always realistic in the short and long term, and it should be acknowledge. But we can assist and guide drug dependent people on the road to, hopefully, recovery. In the meantime, we can help them avoid the risks associated to drug use.
Some regions and countries call this approach harm reduction, although some have objections to this wording. Harm reduction is a dire necessity. It is about saving people’s lives, not about legalisation of drug use. We know that this approach works.
As UNODC, WHO and UNAIDS have pointed out, NSP and substitution is key to preventing HIV infections among IDUs. We must protect health, safety and welfare of our citizens.
This new notion necessitates a paradigm shift. I make a plea for a pragmatic, flexible and evidence-based drug policy. By working together, we can make a difference, and the Netherlands will make a full contribution.