Drug tourism is an increasing public health concern that affects nations and localities from all over the world. However, drug tourism can bring millions and even billions of dollars to the areas where tourists visit to use drugs, so changing these practices is often not something drug-tolerant regions can afford to do. However, the problems that are created by drug tourism have a trickle-down effect that can cause significant disruptions at all levels of society. Understanding the effects of drug tourism is critical in order to create more reasonable drug policies.
Drug tourism is the act of traveling to another country or other location for the purpose of using drugs or alcohol that are not customarily available or legal in the user’s country of origin. In general this refers to drug tourism that occurs in places like the Netherlands, parts of Asia, South America and Mexico, where attitudes towards drugs are relaxed. People who participate in drug tourism often state that it doesn’t hurt anyone and so should therefore continue unabated. However, this view is significantly skewed, as there are several entities that are significantly affected by drug tourism. These include:
Regions surrounding drug tolerant places often complain that their internal drug problems can be attributed in large part to the tolerant host country or region. For instance, France has consistently blamed the Netherland’s tolerant attitude concerning marijuana for its severe heroin problems – a claim that has never been substantiated but has nonetheless been the cause of heated discussion between the two countries on the issue.
Country of Origin
Drug tourists often bring illegal substances back into their home country for personal use or sales, thereby exacerbating the home country’s existing drug problems. In fact, according to Wikipedia, involving oneself in drug tourism in another land could be cause for arrest or persecution in the user’s home country:
“The act of traveling for the purpose of buying or using drugs is itself a criminal offense in some jurisdictions.” (1)
Often the host country is the most affected by its own drug tourism policies. Drug tourism is often associated with crime, public disturbances or public nuisances, noise complaints, fights and rowdiness, addiction and alcoholism and substance abuse among teens and even children. Unfortunately, many of the regions that are tolerant to drug use eventually become dependent upon the income that drug tourism brings.
The primary benefit of drug tourism is that it allows the user to do something that would normally be illegal in their home country. But the real problem is that once they return to their homeland, they’re likely to continue to try to find ways to use at home, this fueling the drug trade both at home and afar.
If you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem and is involved in drug tourism, you should know that the risks are very real and in some cases will involve serious jail time. Don’t risk it. Pick up the phone and call the number at the top of your screen now for an immediate consultation with a substance abuse specialist. No matter how bad your problem is, where you are or what time it is, we can help. But we can’t do anything if you don’t call, so take action now.