When the nation of Georgia had an influx of new addicts, did they turn to drug rehab programs? Of course not. The former Soviet country faced its own challenges and version of the drug wars we in America had been combatting for years once they gained independence in 1991. Between Georgia, the US, and the Netherlands, all have tried various approaches to finding a solution to combatting addiction.
The Netherlands has become known—for better or worse—around the world for its lax policies on drugs. The country decided to adopt the path of decriminalization (not to be confused with legalization). What resulted was a proliferation of use and drug problems, as can be seen in Portugal, who adopted a similar model for dealing with addiction. Both countries are now struggling to rein in the damage done by letting the problem fester.
Drug rehab programs help addicts find a more positive path in life.
The US has had a more manic relationship with drugs and addiction, mainly because we were the primary market for the rest of the world. We tried to strong-arm addiction out of existence, but once we saw that such a strategy was not effective, we have moved more towards drug rehab and other programs to help addicts find a way out of their disease. This understanding and compassion is limited, though, and as many addicts find out, prison is still an all-too available future for those who do not find recovery.
Georgia, on the other hand, is a strange case. Having seen the ineffectiveness of the US War on Drugs firsthand, the president of Georgia nevertheless decided to pursue a far more draconian approach than the US, with a first-time use resulting in a several hundred dollar (in US currency) fine. A second offense was prison. Unsurprisingly, their prison population exploded, giving them the distinction of having the fourth highest prison population in the world at one point.
Any policeman could pull a pedestrian aside and demand a pee-test right then and there. If you were dirty, you were either in the poor house or the prison yard. This didn’t curb usage, but instead lead to increased usage of Subutex (a drug similar to methadone or Suboxone) and the dreaded krokodil because it was a less noticeable high, or stayed in an addict’s system for a shorter period of time (respectively).
Still, there is no magic bullet. No matter what path a country takes, there are negative circumstances that follow. Whether someone ends up in a drug rehab or not, there will always be those who never find recovery. Some blame that on the education system, income inequality, not having a father, or any number of other difficult personal or life circumstances. For some, that very well may be true.
The real reason, though, is that most addicts and alcoholics simply do not need a reason to get loaded. They would rather numb out as long as possible, even when things are going well. Candidacy for drug rehab programs is not based on circumstances—it is based on coping with existing.