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Syracuse University

Publication Date

Fall 2021

Program Name

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy


Drug use, policy and outcomes differ in all countries; however, trends exist in response to these circumstances and can typically be evaluated through a pragmatic and moralistic lens. The public health, and evidence-based pragmatic approach differs from the law enforcement-centered moralistic approach, specifically in outcomes of people suffering from substance use disorder. Particularly for opioid use disorder, countries that have taken the pragmatic approach in response to opioid epidemics have had dramatic results. Two of the countries discussed include Switzerland and Portugal, with additional information on the Netherlands. In contrast, current opioid epidemics exist in certain countries who maintain a moralistic approach - namely the United States, with additional information on Canada who is experiencing a parallel epidemic. Though evidence demonstrates a pragmatic approach to drug policy and addiction will faire positive outcomes, hesitance to implement public health prevention and harm reduction policies remains. This paper discusses the context, dynamic, and policy behind countries that were able to combat the opioid crisis, while comparing these lenses to countries that struggle to achieve similar results. Moreover, this paper includes recommendations for countries with rising opioid epidemics to expand pragmatism in their approach to drug policy and addiction to improve the health of their populations.


Comparative Politics | European Languages and Societies | Health Policy | Legal Studies | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Health | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Substance Abuse and Addiction


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