San Diego International Law Journal


Leonard Mukosi

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



This Article juxtaposes addiction paradigms seen in the United States of America and Zimbabwe, two countries with diametrically dissimilar political, economic, and social systems. Thus, an insight is provided by this Article into how developing and developed countries are transitioning from punitive to curative approaches in addressing the problem of drug addiction. Positing that addiction is a health condition, this Article recognizes the optimum realization of the addict’s right to health is best met if the required international standards of health are implemented nationally to insure, treat, and evaluate addiction like other chronic illnesses.

Drug addiction is a brain disease which, like any other health problem, should be medically treated. The conventional belief that addicts are morally flawed and lack willpower fuels an overemphasized bias for punitive responses to addiction through the criminal justice system while neglecting therapeutic treatments. This stance defies empirical scientific evidence that addiction is a disease that causes severe harm to the brain.

The groundbreaking scientific discoveries that revolutionized the understanding of drug addiction warrant extending the right to health to addicts. The right to health, as recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), should protect people grappling with addiction since addicts have a medical condition that places them in a vulnerable group. This Article does not advocate for the abolishment of the criminal justice responses to addiction, but rather prescribes a harmonious coexistence between criminal justice and health care mechanisms in response to addiction.