Labour MEP calls for a humane, dignified perspective on drug addiction

Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer, ‘Everything we know about addiction is wrong, we need to approach addiction from a humane perspective’

Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer had strong words for traditional drug addiction treatments when he recently hosted a high-level webinar organised by the Platform for Better Preventive Healthcare: “Everything we know about addiction is wrong and telling young people to ‘Just say no’ isn’t effective.

“We need to approach addiction from a humane perspective, treat people with dignity and move towards harm reduction practices. We must do better. Our citizens deserve better.”

The webinar brought together academics, decision makers, think-tanks and NGOs and revolved around the European drug policy and how the EU and its individual governments can introduce legislation that adopts a science-based approach on tackling addiction.

Engerer explained, “Since the international community embarked on the so-called ‘war against drugs’ in the 1970s, more and more scientific evidence has emerged which shows that the path decision makers in this field have been going down, is the wrong path- and that restrictive policy and campaigns are harmful for society, especially young people.

“Not adopting an approach which takes into consideration the psycho-social perspective of the person facing addiction has proven to be harmful, and even deadly. The science on this is abundantly clear, we must empower people with information and approach addiction from a non-judgemental and empathetic point of view for the best results.

“We need to move away from our convictions which are based in ideology and morality and move towards a more evidence based, empathetic approach.

The webinar aimed discussed contemporary health challenges facing Europe such as addiction, which require proven solutions that transcend borders.

Discussions revolved around the need for solutions to be found in a compromise between human capital, best practice, experience and science and featured speakers from the Institute for Rational Addictions Policy and the European Harm Reduction Network.

Speaking in his opening statement, former Czech anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril was upbeat in that, according to him, if done right, the European Union could be the leader of the world when it comes to harm reduction practices, “but only if we mobilise ourselves as member states and put human rights first”.

Voboril encouraged academics, civil society and citizens to sign the European call for the implementation of science-based policy when it comes to preventive healthcare, in order to encourage decision-makers to move towards harm reduction measures.

The call can be signed at:

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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