When discussing problematic drug use it is necessary to articulate both the legal and the health system to establish a coherent approach to address it. As the health system is formed in part by the Mental Health professionals who are usually those who respond to and receive this population for treatment, the aim of the present study was to learn their opinion with regard to problematic drug use approach both clinically and in the legal system. The results would help to stimulate discussion in the Mental Health field to better assist policy makers.
Materials and Methods:
This was a cross-sectional study with a convenience sample. During the 2017 Argentinian Conference on Psychiatry (Congreso Argentino de Psiquiatría XXXII from Asociación de Psiquiatras Argentinos), the attendees received an anonymous voluntary paper questionnaire designed by the research team that had 4 questions on demographic information and 9 Likert-like statements. Statistical analysis was performed.
A total of 642 attendees answered the questionnaire. As regards criminalization of drug use, 51.7% would decriminalize ≥1 drug, 42.5% disagreed that the aim of the treatment is total abstinence (those that disagreed had a statistically significantly lower mean age compared with those that agreed), and 64.5% disagreed with punishing drug possession for personal use.
The debate taking place worldwide on how to address the drug use problem could also be found among the Mental Health professionals in Argentina, where almost half considered that ban is the best approach, whereas the other half was in favor of decriminalization. Creating consensus among Mental Health providers would allow better articulation of the health system, with the policy makers giving a comprehensive approach in these complex situations.