27 June 2008

Iran Is an Odd Place

They still enforce a death penalty for homosexuality, but they are one of the most transsexual friendly governments in the world, and now I find that Iran's policy towards drugs and addiction is geared to a remarkable degree towards treatment, rather than punishment:
In a country where the discussion of some social and cultural issues, like homosexuality, can be all but taboo, drug addiction has been widely acknowledged as a serious problem. It is talked about openly in schools and on television. Posters have encouraged people to think of addiction as a disease and to seek treatment.

Iran's theocratic government has encouraged and financed a vast expansion in the number of drug treatment centers to help users confront their addictions and to combat the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through shared needles.


Iran's government, trying to curb addiction's huge social costs, has been more supportive of drug treatment than any other government in the Islamic world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


But two decades later, it recognized that this approach had failed. A sharp increase in the crime rate and the number of people infected with HIV, both directly linked to a surge in narcotics use, persuaded the government to shift strategies.


.... After a 25 percent surge in HIV cases, the government began distributing free needles in prisons in 2000.


"There are so many options that no addict can claim that there is nowhere to go for help," said Dr. Mohammad-Reza Haddadi, a physician and researcher at the National Center for Addiction Studies. "It is much cheaper and healthier for them to go to these centers for methadone than to drug dealers."
They realized that a war on drugs wasn't working, and they changed.

The fact that the Iranians are more sane on drug policy than either mainstream party should be an embarrassment to Americans.


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