ÖREBRO ”The world is closely following what Sweden is doing to combat drugs. You are unique with your united action and cultural policy against abuse.“ The former U.S. drugczar Robert DuPont delivered this tribute to the Swedish drug prevention struggle at a drugs convention in May.
He used the example of how drug problems are much greater in Copenhagen in Denmark compared with Malmö in Sweden, despite only 20 minutes separating the two cities.
The explanation, says the American drug expert, is that Sweden has a long tradition of public opinion and interaction on common problems. Sweden has also learned lessons from the drugs epidemic in the 1960s. Then, an attempt for legal prescription of amphetamines in Stockholm was suspended, as addiction increased instead of decreasing.
DuPont says the late professor Nils Bejerot played an important role in public education; he analyzed what went wrong and then saw what changes were required to avoid repetitions.
– That a modern open minded country like Sweden can take a stand and say no to drug liberalization and through good practice show that the negative trend can be turned, means a lot to the outside world, said Robert DuPont.
He also complimented the public health minister, Maria Larsson on her strong opposition against harm-reduction advocates at the UN-meeting in Vienna recently. DuPont has good contacts in Washington and intends to put pressure on the new drugczar to contact the Swedish representative to learn more about the Swedish restrictive policy on drugs.
-The key to the drug issue is not to focus on the narcotics but on public opinion. If public opinion accepts that young people are allowed to experiment with drugs, that means society is in big trouble, added DuPont. Relatives and community must intervene to stop more damage being done, DuPont claims.
– Young people are more vulnerable. Drugs kidnap the brain so to speak, and a chemical slavery develops. The adult world must take responsibility and teach young people to avoid certain behaviours, although it is difficult, said DuPont who thinks the police have an important role there.
Drugnews also meet DuPont in Stockholm and discuss what could be expected during the new Obama administration.
– I am very optimistic. President Barack Obama and vice president Joseph Biden will be a good team, said DuPont.
DuPont says that he trusts Biden; who is skilled in drug matters, to handle drug issues with the newly appointed drugczar, police commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. DuPont expects more focus on drug issues and alternatives to offer criminals drug treatments instead of prison.