Despite its reputation as a happy and prosperous country, Finland faces a growing problem with drug abuse, particularly among young people. In fact, Finland has the highest rate of children under 25 who die from drugs compared to other European countries. Almost 30% of drug-related deaths in 2022 in Finland occurred in this age group, and drug users die ten years earlier on average than in other EU countries.
Many drug overdoses in Finland are a result of the mixture of multiple substances, including buprenorphine, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. The lack of access to treatment for drug addiction in Finland compounds the problem, with only 20% of people with substance use disorders receiving help, compared to 70% in neighboring Sweden.
Niko, a 25-year-old with a substance use disorder, is a typical example of someone who has faced the devastating consequences of drug abuse in Finland. He began using drugs at 12 years old, and by 16, he had moved on to stronger substances such as amphetamines and ecstasy. Niko’s story is not unique, and the consequences of drug addiction have led to the loss of many young lives in Finland.
Supervised injection rooms have been suggested as a possible solution to mitigate the harm caused by drug abuse. These rooms provide a safe, hygienic environment for drug users to take their drugs under professional supervision, reducing the potential for overdose and other negative consequences. Finland has yet to implement these types of facilities, which are available in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.
One glimmer of hope in Finland’s drug crisis is Tomi, a former drug addict who has been clean for two years despite experiencing four near-death experiences due to drugs. Tomi overcame addiction after a period in prison and now dreams of becoming a firefighter and starting anew. His story is proof that it is possible to overcome addiction, find a new life, and move on from the tragic consequences of drug use.
Finland’s drug crisis is a serious issue that needs attention and action. By increasing access to treatment and considering the implementation of supervised injection rooms, Finland can begin to address the root causes of drug addiction and prevent the tragic consequences that result from it.