“Addict but not criminal”- this message has covered Beirut on signs and posters since June 26th 2008 (World Drug Day) as part of a campaign. The campaign’s main goals are to advocate effective implementation of 1998 Lebanese Drug Law, initiate a referral system, educate judicial and police forces about drug addictions and enhance awareness on the appropriate treatment to drug users.
According to Lebanese law, “whoever is proven addicted will be imprisoned from three months to three years. The sentence could be reprieved if the convicted submits themselves to treatment measures ordered by the court.” However, approximately 1,500 drug-dependent and drug-using individuals are sent directly to prison every year because the facilities and agencies responsible for taking the drug user into treatment – particularly the National Council to Combat Drugs – do not exist.
The campaign is funded by USAID and Amideast and the campaign’s architects are NGO and rehabilitation centers, such as Oum El Nour, an inpatient center, and SKOUN, an outpatient facility in Beirut.