Portugal – “Is there really always a spot in a drug treatment facility?”

November 16, 2020
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The quote below is from a piece that compares San Francisco’s drug plan to Portugal. The author appears to be an advocate of a comprehensive response to San Francisco’s drug problem — criminal justice reform, harm reduction, treatment, etc. — so she definitely is not making an argument against harm reduction.

She refers to an interview with Dr. Joao Goulao, Portugal’s Director-General of The General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies. This portion speaks to the role of treatment in Portugal’s system.

One point he made tripped me up, because it’s so foreign to San Francisco. Here there are long waiting lists for many services, including drug treatment. Is there really always a spot in a drug treatment facility available in Portugal?

“Always,” he said, looking surprised by the question. “Always.”

He said the country spends 75 million euros — about $85 million — on drug treatment each year.

The approach means Portugal never had to open a safe injection site

Dr. Goalao says that Portugal has plans for supervised injection sites next year but the author adds, “But the concept is in addition to the country’s approach to drugs, not its entire plan, like here in San Francisco.”

The whole piece is well worth reading but it is behind a paywall.

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