Name a country plagued with a spiralling drug death toll, dirty needles lining the streets and families mourning loved ones lost to substances.
You could hardly be blamed for thinking of Scotland first, since 1,187 people were killed by drugs here in 2018 – the highest figure of any year on record.
But, 20 years ago, Portugal was in a similar state. Cities such as Lisbon, like Dundee, were at the epicentre of a drugs crisis.
In 1999, nearly 10,000 people were referred to drug services across the European nation, and 369 people were killed by drugs – one in every 27,000 people.
But, in 2017, just one in every 223,000 adults lost their lives to drugs. So what changed?
Portugal became the first country to decriminalise all drugs and embrace addiction as a problem to be solved by health and social services rather than by police and criminal courts.
The decision in 2001 saw police refocus their efforts on dealers, and users given free help to get better and start over.
As a result there have been fewer overdoses, a drop in HIV infection rates and the erasure of stigma around addiction.
Workers in the country say it is now not uncommon to see community methadone vans providing the replacement drug, or outreach teams scouring the streets for people to give clean needles to, along with advice.
Drug expert Dr Joao Goulao, one of the architects of the policy that brought about decriminalisation, believes there are lessons we can learn from Portugal in the wake of Dundee’s worst-ever year of drug deaths.
He said: “Around 20 to 25 years ago we were facing an epidemic of overdoses and HIV infections. It was a devastating situation.”
Drugs flooded into Portugal in the 70s after its far-right regime collapsed and the country’s borders were thrown open. Drugs rapidly found their way into families from all walks of life.
“There were no exceptions, no social borders,” explained Dr Goulao. “There was a sudden availability of substances in a society that was completely unprepared to deal with them.”
In the late 90s, Dr Goulao was recruited to a team that re-invented Portugal’s drug policy in the wake of widespread misery.
He now heads up Portugal’s drugs policy forum, SICAD.
In Portugal, those caught with a “personal” supply of drugs – 10 days’ worth – aren’t prosecuted.
Instead, they are ordered to attend a commission made up of a lawyer, a doctor and an attorney to discuss their situation and be guided towards treatment.
In the years since the policy came in, Portuguese drug deaths have fallen from an average of 185 each year between 1989 and 1999 to about 25 a year between 2006 and 2016.
HIV infection rates have dropped dramatically and the number of people undergoing drug treatment has risen.
But Dr Goulao is quick to point out that decriminalisation is not the same as legalisation, and that the country’s police continue to crack down on dealers with ever greater ferocity.
“The facilities of our law enforcement are freed up because of decriminalisation,” he said.
“Instead of arresting users they are going after criminal organisations. They aren’t seizing grams (of drugs). They are seizing whole shipments. Availability has decreased.”
In Dundee, the common perception of a drug user is of someone who has chosen to be addicted to drugs. In Portugal, there is now an understanding that the issue is a symptom of deeper problems in society.
Read more from on the Dundee drugs death crisis here
Dr Goulao explained: “We realised drug addiction was a chronic disease, and that people who suffered from it deserved the same dignity as others with similar diseases.
“Being addicted to drugs is not compatible with being criminalised for it. People may say it is self-inflicted but so are some forms of diabetes.
“You don’t go to jail because you eat bad things or too much sugar. It is time to think again.
“Decriminalisation led to a drop in stigma. People are no longer getting criminal records that prevent them getting jobs or buying houses.
“We have erased those difficulties. It has not solved everything but we are quite happy.”
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Despite its success, SICAD’s work is not done.
Portugal is only starting to embrace safe consumption centres and the availability of naloxone, an anti-overdose drug, is limited.
But Dr Goulao believes the decision to decriminalise remains the right one.
He noted: “There is complete political concensus now that wasn’t there at the time.
“Everyone now agrees it was a good decision.”
Dundee’s battle with drugs has been further highlighted as stats revealed the highest rates of deaths due to narcotics on record. It was a similar story in Portugal 20 years ago. The country changed its philosophy and approach to great effect.Journalist Jon Brady spoke to Dr Joao Goulao, who was at the forefront of decriminalisation, to find out what Scotland – and Dundee – can learn.