Does Portugal Have The Answer To Stopping Drug Overdose Deaths? : Consider This from NPR Brian Mann covers the U-S opioid and fentanyl crisis for NPR. That means he talks to a lot of people struggling with addiction. Again and again, he's heard stories of people who have succumbed to their addiction — last year 112, 000 — more than ever in history.

But when Mann traveled to Portugal to report on that country's model for dealing with the opioid crisis, he heard a very different story. Overdose deaths in Portugal are extremely rare.

The country has taken a radically different approach to drugs – decriminalizing small amounts and publicly funding addiction services – including sites where people can use drugs like crack and heroin.

Portugal treats addiction as an illness rather than a crime. No one has to pay for addiction care, and no one scrambles to navigate a poorly regulated recovery system. Could Portugal's approach help the U-S fight its opioid epidemic?

For sponsor-free episodes of Consider This, sign up for Consider This+ via Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

Does Portugal Have The Answer To Stopping Drug Overdose Deaths?

Does Portugal Have The Answer To Stopping Drug Overdose Deaths?

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Drug consumers line up outside of the SAOM van for a methadone cocktail and supplies in the city center of Porto, Portugal last spring. There are very few overdose deaths in the country where drug addiction is treated as an illness rather than a crime. Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post /Getty Images hide caption

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Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post /Getty Images

Drug consumers line up outside of the SAOM van for a methadone cocktail and supplies in the city center of Porto, Portugal last spring. There are very few overdose deaths in the country where drug addiction is treated as an illness rather than a crime.

Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post /Getty Images

Brian Mann covers the U-S opioid and fentanyl crisis for NPR. That means he talks to a lot of people struggling with addiction. Again and again, he's heard stories of people who have succumbed to their addiction — last year 112, 000 — more than ever in history.

But when Mann traveled to Portugal to report on that country's model for dealing with the opioid crisis, he heard a very different story. Overdose deaths in Portugal are extremely rare.

The country has taken a radically different approach to drugs – decriminalizing small amounts and publicly funding addiction services – including sites where people can use drugs like crack and heroin.

Portugal treats addiction as an illness rather than a crime. No one has to pay for addiction care, and no one scrambles to navigate a poorly regulated recovery system. Could Portugal's approach help the U-S fight its opioid epidemic?

For sponsor-free episodes of Consider This, sign up for Consider This+ via Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Connor Donevan and Megan Lim. It was edited by Courtney Dorning and Andrea DeLeon. Our executive producer is Sami Yenigun.