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Worldwide Drug Tourism

Most people who attend residential inpatient treatment become addicted in their hometowns and communities. However, some will travel to other countries just to gain access to certain drugs. This practice is known as drug tourism, and it can lead people to develop crippling addictions. It also has controversial repercussions on the economics and politics of foreign nations. Given the prevalence of international travel, more Americans should understand the dangers and effects of drug tourism.

What is Drug Tourism?

Most American drug tourists travel to obtain substances that are illegal in the United States. This country has some of the strictest drug laws and enforcement in the Western world, and European nations tend to be far more liberal in their policies. Some people will travel to popular spots such as Switzerland or the Netherlands to use marijuana. Others will leave home to satisfy cravings or curiosity for harder drugs like heroin and cocaine.

However, not all drug tourism involves illegal substances. People who are too young to smoke or drink may make short trips to nearby countries to party. This is especially common for American teenagers who live close to Canada and Mexico. It’s also a common practice for students who take trips during their spring and summer breaks.

Potential Dangers

One of the clearest dangers of drug tourism is the harm done by the drugs themselves. People who spend the time and money necessary for travel will often use in extreme amounts, and they put themselves at risk of overdose. Those who actually live in these nations may have more relaxed attitudes, but many drug tourists practically plan on binging.

Also, engaging in any unhealthy activity is especially dangerous in a foreign country. Foreigners who overdose or consume tainted products may not have access to healthcare, leaving them in dire straits. Some of the most popular tourist destinations have not even legalized drugs. It may be easier to obtain cocaine in Columbia or opium in Thailand – but these countries still have stiff penalties for people who are caught.

Long-Term Impacts

Drug trade and trafficking has enormous impacts on countries where tourism is popular. Some of these effects may be positive, but most are clearly harmful. For instance, tourism of any kind can improve a nation’s economy, and a sustained industry can lead to better infrastructure and healthcare for native-born people. However, the money that tourists spend doesn’t always end up in the hands of those who need it most. It’s common for a country to remain deeply impoverished, while foreign hotel and travel companies reap most of the profits.

Additionally, the prevalence of drugs can lead to increased crime – especially in areas where the most popular substances aren’t actually legal. In fact, widespread drug tourism in one country can lead to increased smuggling and violent crime in nearby areas. The cocaine trade in Columbia and surrounding nations is a perfect example.

Important Lessons

Despite its harms, drug tourism can teach several valuable lessons. The extent to which some people will go to obtain drugs shows that strict prohibition may not be the best way to reduce abuse. Also, the disastrous effects of the illegal drug trade illustrate how violent crime is a product of criminalization. Finally, the nations which have legalized drugs may eventually serve as helpful models for improved American policies.

If you’re struggling with any kind of drug – legal or illegal – you need to get help as soon as possible. Addiction is a life-consuming disease, but you still have hope for a lasting recovery. Call the number at the top of your screen to learn more about the best residential inpatient treatment program in the country.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More