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Kristiana B has completed her BA and MA in Sociology from Durham University, UK. She is currently working on her PhD, The Effect of Criminalisation on Cannabis Engagers, at the University of Latvia.
As the high-income countries that lead knowledge production on recreational and problematic substance use move towards harm-reducing strategies, the remaining majority of the EU stick to the known way of life - shaming and punishing addicts. This approach is logical and useful for all involved parties. The addict accepts blame for their own poor choices, society has a clear other to direct their discontent to, and the government does not have to take blame for rising numbers of addicts in their prohibitionist countries. The presentation uses the case of Latvia to show how reasonable is the approach of stigmatisation, punitive punishment, and moral education in withdrawing state responsibility as the structure’s overseers. If addiction is not linked to poverty, precarious life conditions and economic instability, then these do not need to be addressed by governments. Indeed, it remains the fault of the addict for choosing a wicked life style that leads to moral depravity and need of exclusion from society. In a true traditional European way, the addict is locked up in questionable conditions with little hope of successful rehabilitation. Given the long-term cost effectiveness of harm reducing policies that focus on prevention through some form of empowerment; treatment through psycho-social long-term readjustment; and integration of the individual into productive society, the EU pressures its members to adhere to some minimal harm-reduction standard. Because of this, Latvia offers addiction treatment that on average lasts almost 5 whole days. Still, a treatment approach seems counterintuitive as it does not allow society to express its discontent toward the immoral addict. Punitive punishment approaches remain in favour in many EU developing countries for its value of blame passing. Lacking policy interest halts funding for addiction research or the adoption of methods discussed in this conference.