The necessity of debating openly about drugs in Brazil was one of the points highlighted by the president of the Brazilian Commission on Drugs and Democracy (CBDD) and of the Fiocruz Fondation, Paulo Gadelha, during the International Symposium on Drugs “From coercion to cohesion”. The event, held this month in Brasilia, emphasized that changes are needed in treatments for chemical dependency, focusing on the decriminalization of users.

The event was based in a 2010 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report called “From coercion to cohesion: Treating drug dependence through health care, not punishment”. It describes a model oriented to shift the focus from the system of justice to a system of treatment. For the UNODC, a model eliminating compulsory treatments results in fewer restrictions to freedom, less stigmatization and offers better perspectives to individuals.

The meeting also promoted an agreement on the necessity of a change in drug policy, moving from an approach of public security to another of public health. “If we continue to consider drug users as criminals, and as being responsible for his own suffering, they will still be facing difficulties of access to the health system, despite all the public investment in the creation of Centers for Psychosocial Attention on Alcohol and Other Drugs (Caps AD) and in training communitarian health agents all around the country”, Gadelha said.

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