O'Neill Institute  |  July 17, 2023

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OVERVIEW: In the 1980s, Portugal experienced a spike in heroin availability, and by the mid-1990s, an estimated 100,000 individuals in Portugal, or 1% of the population, injected drugs. The nation saw increases in HIV/AIDS diagnoses and deaths brought about by injection drug use and a lack of harm reduction facilities. In 1998, in the face of this crisis, the Portuguese government convened experts from a variety of disciplines (e.g., addiction treatment, community organizing, church officials) to examine and devise a plan to address the crisis. The proposals they developed centered on prevention, health-care interventions, expanding quality treatment, and reducing the nation’s drug supply. The mandate from the government required that any plan comply with international drug control conventions.

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