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Drug Policy debate – law enforcement and health working together

Recent debate on policy options for tackling the use of illegal drugs has stressed the merits of viewing drug use as a health rather than a criminal justice matter. However, there are strong reasons for avoiding an ‘either or approach’ to drug enforcement and treatment and viewing these as complementary rather than as competing approaches to tackling the use of illegal drugs. This article draws upon data from an evaluation of three major drug enforcement operations to show that in the aftermath of those operations, the proportion of drug users contacting drug treatment services markedly increased. The implications of these results are that those planning drug enforcement operations should involve staff within drug treatment agencies to ensure that any increased demand for their services, in the aftermath of drug enforcement operations, can be met. Further, the research shows the merit of viewing drug enforcement and treatment as complementary elements of a comprehensive drug strategy.

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