São Paulo Brazil to Begin Involuntary Commitment of Adult Crack Addicts

A recent report states that at least 6 million adults in Brazil have used cocaine in some form.

Officials in São Paulo, Brazil, say they are going to start forcing adult crack addicts into rehab in an effort to curtail the city’s problem of rising drug use. According to Newser, an anti-drug commission made up of a panel of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers will be allowed to commit addicts against their will who have refused to get treatment voluntarily.

Crack addiction in São Paulo, which is Brazil’s most populous state has gone up significantly in recent years with addicts occupying what authorities call “crack lands.” These crack lands are open-air locations such as parks and squares where addicts congregate to buy, sell, and use drugs. A new study released by the Federal University of São Paulo found that Brazil has moved into the number one spot for crack and cocaine consumption in the world.

Although on the surface involuntary commitment may seem to be the answer to Brazil’s growing drug problem, many argue that treatment programs will not work if the addict does not have the desire to get clean and stay clean. However, recent studies have shown that treatment does not have to be voluntary to be effective, instead it is more important that the addict remain in the treatment program for an adequate period of time, that the underlying causes of the addiction are addressed, and that support services are continued after a patient has been released.

Do you think involuntary commitment is a realistic answer to the problem of drug addiction?

If the program in São Paulo does prove to be effective, do you think it should be adopted by other countries with similar drug addiction problems?

Many argue that involuntary commitment violates an adult’s personal autonomy; do you agree?

Photo: tanjila/Flickr

About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. Gotta clean up for all the nice white people coming in 2014 and 2016!

    Also, if the Brazilian government worked more on the community issues that exasceparete drug addiction and the negative impacts (income inequality, poverty in general, racism, access to jobs) the crack lands wouldn’t be so large. I love my people, but there’s a lot of conversations we need to have with ourselves before we can actually become world examples.

  2. Forced (involuntary is a euphemism this act does not deserve) commitment has a terrible history. Traditionally, no matter what excuses are offered when it is instituted, it becomes a tool for state repression. It won’t only be used on crack addicts — what you’ll see is the police (and others) simply planting crack on any undesirable they want to see locked away (or people they want to abuse), and then the rest of the system will sign off on it with no questions asks.

    That’s how it was used here: to lock up protestors, to silence political opponents, to provide unscrupulous psychiatrists a steady stream of victims to abuse (either for their own gratification or for experimentation), and to provide slave labor. People didn’t suddenly become ‘better’ in the last thirty years, and the governments of this world are certainly no less corrupt. Anyone who proposes such a thing deserves to have their motivations both questioned and scrutinized.

    Rules like this are never restricted to actual addicts. They apply to everyone a state claims to be an addict.

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