Time to Get Serious? Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurses and an Evidence-Informed Drug Policy for the USA

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In 2001, Portugal enacted what, for some, was a radical shift in its national drug policy, decriminalized drugs, and implemented a treatment-driven response to drug use. Empirical evaluation of the impacts of this policy “U-turn” continues and the evidence produced so far is both consistent and convincing. It seems by almost any measurement, the Portuguese experiment of drug decriminalization/treatment-driven responses, has been a resounding success. However, these empirical findings do not yet appear to have influenced national drug policy in the USA, which continue to regard decriminalization as “radical” and “extreme”. Similarly disturbing is the lack of substantive contributions to this debate from nurses, especially Psychiatric/Mental Health (P/MH) nurses, which is troubling in a number of ways. Therefore what the authors do in this paper is: first, highlight Portugal's drug decriminalization policy and the evidence forthcoming from evaluations. Second, illuminate the disconcerting lack of substantive contributions to this debate that have been made by P/MH nurses. Third, examine the congruence between Humanistic approaches to P/MH nursing and many of the tenets of Libertarian thinking and policies. And then in drawing these three elements together, the authors exhort P/MH nurses to fulfill their rhetorical, macro-care role and contribute to this much-needed debate.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at john.cutcliffe@wright.edu.



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