Learn how to analyze community problems to better understand root causes and plan effective interventions. Communities have problems, just like people What is a community problem? What is analyzing community problems all about?
Arriving in his small office in Lisbon, the year-old tosses his jacket aside, leaving his shirt collar crooked. He looks a little tired from the many trips he's taken lately -- the world wants to know exactly how the experiment in Portugal is going.
He adds his latest piece of mail to the mountain of papers on his desk. One gram of heroin, two grams of cocaine, 25 grams of marijuana leaves or five grams of hashish: These are the drug quantities one can legally purchase and possess in Portugal, carrying them through the streets of Lisbon in a pants pocket, say, without fear of repercussion.
MDMA -- the active ingredient in ecstasy -- and amphetamines -- including speed and meth -- can also be possessed in amounts up to one gram. That's roughly enough of each of these drugs to last 10 days.
Portugal paved a new path when it decided to decriminalize drugs of all kinds. Why set the limits on these drugs at 10 days' worth of use, though? Now the head of Portugal's national anti-drug program and an important figure in Portuguese health policy, he still talks like an easygoing family doctor.
How can a government keep its citizens from taking dangerous drugs? One way is to crack down on those who provide the drugs -- the cartels, the middle men and the street dealers. Another approach is to focus on the customers -- arresting them, trying them and imprisoning them.
Legal prosecution -- as both a control mechanism and a deterrent -- is the chosen approach for most governments. Pinto Coelho wants his country to return to normalcy, in the form of the tough war on drugs that much of the rest of the world conducts. Pinto Coelho is a doctor too.
He has run rehab centers and written books about addiction. Now he's at odds with former colleagues and with "the system," as he says.
His greatest concern is that his country has given up on the idea of a drug-free world. How, Pinto Coelho asks, is it possible to keep young people away from drugs, when everyone knows exactly how many pills can legally be carried around?
He still believes deterrents are the best form of prevention and that cold turkey withdrawal is the best treatment method. He is also fighting the extensive methadone program Portugal began as part of its drug policy reform, which now provides tens of thousands of heroin addicts with this substitute drug.
These days, Pinto Coelho earns his living running diet clinics, but he spends his evenings writing letters and drafting presentations on his country's "absurd drug experiment.
At home in Portugal, his critical perspective has made him an outsider, but he says he's been well received abroad. As if offering proof, he shows a fact sheet issued by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy, a brief and skeptically worded report on the Portuguese experiment.
InPortugal broke free from nearly 50 years of military dictatorship, a political shift symbolized by the carnations soldiers stuck in the muzzles of their rifles. He was in his early twenties and "drugs promised us freedom.
At that point, he says, the heroin epidemic was just beginning. In the s, cheap heroin from Afghanistan and Pakistan began flooding Europe. The number of people taking illegal drugs in Portugal was low compared with other countries, but of those who did consume drugs, an unusually high number of them fell into the category that specialists in this field refer to as "problem drug users.
Flipping through it, he finds the figure he's looking for: This is the number of severely drug-addicted people in Portugal at the height of the epidemic, in the mids.
Portugal's total population at the time was just under 10 million. The number of drug addicts who became infected with HIV was also considerably higher than in most other countries.
A drug slum formed in Lisbon, at the edge of a neighborhood known as Casal Ventoso. Here junkies slept in shacks or in the garbage, in extremely poor conditions.
Anyone in Portugal could observe this phenomenon -- on TV, in newspaper pictures or even from the nearby highway.Analyzing community problems can also help you understand the resources you need. And the better equipped you are with the right resources, the greater your chances of success.
To develop the best action steps for addressing the problem. The research assistant assists in reviewing the relevant literature, preparing the four data sets for analysis, and carrying out descriptive and multivariate statistical analysis (basic regression analysis, longitudinal data analysis, and matching techniques).
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