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Dr. Nuno Capaz is the Vice President of the Dissuasion Commission of Lisbon, Ministry of Health, Portugal. Dr. Capaz and I met to discuss the history of decriminalization of drugs in Portugal, implementation of the policy, outcomes, advocacy and the importance of focusing on harm reduction, prevention and treatment.

Joel Arnold

Research in Portugal

  • Curriculum Track:
    16 Month

I was abroad for 3 weeks for my Global Independent Study project. My project involved interviewing key informants in Lisbon, Portugal to construct semi-structured interviews, which were administered to Lisbon residents using convenient sampling. I hoped to gain an understanding of drug decriminalization.

What was your most memorable moment during your Global Independent Study project?

I had two actually. One was when I first touched down in Lisbon and had a mini anxiety attack on whether or not I would be able to complete this project. The second one was at the end when I was interviewing the Vice President of the Dissuasion Commission of Portugal, was getting so much great data, and realized I did it.

How has your Global Independent Study project impact your future goals as a social worker?

The GIS gave me practical tools that I can talk to employers about and gave me the confidence that I can be a successful social worker. It influenced my desire to advocate for evidence based policies that impact people with substance use disorders while also providing one on one care. I learned that policy can impact marginalized communities so advocating for just laws needs to be part of the work that we do as social workers.

What advice would you give, based on your own experience, to students considering Global Independent Study?

DO IT. It will help inform everything you are learning about in class in a very real, concrete way that you will not be able to get anywhere else in the school. Additionally, take the time to explore the culture that you are in, and if you feel overwhelmed, just remember that is part of the learning/growing experience and it will work out.

Poster Archive of Previous Student Project: Treatment Seeking Behavior and Policy: Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

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