Establishing a drug policy is one of the best ways of fighting drug abuse globally. Coming up with a drug policy involves three major issues, that is, what is the need of the system? What is the cost of implementing the drug policy? Which factors to consider when establishing a drug policy? And what are the benefits of the drug policy?
Need for a Drug Policy
A drug policy is a ratification used to regulate the production, possession, use, and disposal of both prescription and illicit drugs. Before drafting a drug policy, one must assess the effect of such a policy to the social, economic and political aspects of the targeted community. The aim of establishing drug policies is to regulate and control illegal trade in and consumption of drugs (Vela & Nargiso, 2013).
It is important to note that a drug policy should not be viewed as a fighting tool but rather a mitigation measure. Models that seem to be less punitive should be adopted to ensure that drug problems are addressed adequately and efficiently.
Any drug policy involves four significant factors:
Education which is critical to teach drug users of the dangers of drug abuse;
Monitoring programs for helping doctors share information contained in the files;
Safety in drug use and disposal;
National and international institutions have an impact on any drug policy formulated to prevent the illegal sale and consumption of drugs. Designing drug policies in different settings is made possible by various models, for instance, the European Union had consequences on the creation of an institution of drug policy in Turkey called Turkish Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (Akgul & Gurer, 2014). There is a close link between policymaking in Turkey and European Union programs.
Establishing a drug policy calls for an investigation to find out the entity which will be responsible for implementing the plan. The accountable body should be facilitated with sustainable finances and human resources. In any drug policy, we must look at the approval rate, the strengths and weaknesses of the system, resources available to support the decision-making process, how the administration could be improved in the future and the role of the policy (Affinnih, 2002).
A drug policy helps in fully understanding and appreciating contemporary drug problems in the world. It critically examines how drug policy came to be and the growth of drug addiction. The mandate of a drug policy is to establish services to meet intravenous drug users needs and the needs of the society. Current policy and decision makers must understand the impacts of drug policy and embed it within their decisions surrounding drug policy today.
Before the twenty-first century, Africa did not experience social problems related to drug abuse. Later on, with colonization and advances in exploration, the continent was open to world trading organizations. Consequently, sub-Saharan Africa became a minor market for drug deals. Being susceptible to western influence, many countries have drug use problems along with associated health, economic and social costs. The resulting issues have forced these countries to develop their drug control policy. The majority have made progress like adopting anti-drug laws or legislation as well as establishing a drug control agency (Lexchin et al., 2013). A more recent strategy is regional cooperation whereby they are coordinating drug control measures.
Factors to consider when establishing a drug policy
It is essential to design a drug policy with clear guiding principles and objectives. The system should regulate licit drugs and prohibit wrong ones.
Availability of funds to run the policy. A sustainable budget is necessary for any drug policy.
Availability of relevant expertise to ensure administration of the policy. The administrators should be drawn from fields like medicine, pharmacy, sociology, and psychology.
Availability of fully equipped control laboratories for testing drugs. The facilities should be marched to the international standards.
Established drug court that would require addicts to undergo treatment programs.
Discretion of the criminal justice which should not be subjective but objective. The sentencing process should be one that upholds the rule of law and democracy.
An adequately instituted and independent regulatory agency to take the mandate of implementing the drug policy (Harris & Rhodes, 2013).
Cost of Implementing a Drug Policy
A great deal of money is invested in drug policy measures. It annually increases due to the gradual increase in the number of drug users as well as the increased attention paid to drug problems, foremost in the criminal justice. A good drug budget should be one that is more readily available and is capable of producing more reliable estimates both across sectors and across time.
The fact on the table is that implementing a drug policy is very expensive since drug quality control laboratories and facilities are costly to establish and maintain. Additionally, the control laboratories need considerable human capital to run them. This calls for the establishment of drug regulatory agencies which are mandated to implement the policy from funding got from registration fees. Where policy changes yield savings, public health insists that these savings should be used to increase access and improve population health (Csete et al., 2016).
Benefits of implementing a drug policy
Reducing injuries and accidents in workplaces
Raising the countrys economic level: This is achievable from increased productivity of the nationals where the majority is not drug consumers. It is also possible to curb social problems related to drug abuse such as laziness. Establish safe, healthy work environments.
Safeguarding the current generation: A drug policy must put the minors at a central stage so that we protect the future society from adverse effects of drug abuse
Educated populace: This benefit is achieved when the citizens have informed adequately on the health and safety risks associated with drug abuse.
Reductions in costs to government and the health care system. The values that would otherwise be channeled to treat many drug addicts can be saved and used for other economic activities.
Decreased loss of life from reduced pain and suffering from which patients succumb to (Geraghty, 2011).
In conclusion, establishing a drug policy is a critical process which must involve decision makers, drug users, and the general community, so that minimize on cost, health risks, and violence-associated consequences.
Affinnih, Y. H. (2002). REVISITING SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN COUNTRIES'DRUG PROBLEMS: HEALTH, SOCIAL, ECONOMIC COSTS, AND DRUG CONTROL POLICY. Substance Use & Misuse, 37(3), 265-290.
Akgul, A., & Gurer, C. (2014). The European Union and the emergence of a drug policy institution in Turkey. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 21(6), 460-469.
Csete, J., Kamarulzaman, A., Kazatchkine, M., Altice, F., Balicki, M., Buxton, J., ... & Hart, C. (2016). Public Health and International Drug Policy: Report of the Johns HopkinsLancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health. Lancet (London, England), 387(10026), 1427.
Geraghty, J. (2011). Drug policy, intravenous drug use, and heroin addiction in the UK. British Journal of Nursing, 20(14).
Harris, M., & Rhodes, T. (2013). Hepatitis C treatment access and uptake for people who inject drugs: a review mapping the role of social factors. Harm Reduction Journal, 10(1), 7.
Lexchin, J., Wiktorowicz, M., Moscou, K., & Eggertson, L. (2013). Provincial drug plan officials' views of the Canadian drug safety system. Journal of health politics, policy, and law, 38(3), 545-571.
Vela, J., & Nargiso, J. (2013). Particular Issue of Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy Environmental Interventions Targeting Drug Abuse Risk and Protective Factors Guest Editors: Karen Friend, Kristi Pettibone, Paul Florin. Drugs: education, prevention, and policy, 20(2), 167.
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