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Drug situation has stabilised in Finland

sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö
Publication date 16.9.2009 16.00
Press release -

The Finnish drug policy has been successful according to the Drug Policy Report of 2008. There was no further increase in experimenting with drugs or drug use in 2008, and among younger people the trend has even been declining. Also the situation with most of drug-related harm stabilised last year, and the attempts to reduce the number of new HIV cases have been successful. The total amount of drug offences reported to the law enforcement authorities were in 2008 at the level of the previous year.

Despite the stabilisation of the drug situation, the different administrative sectors must further increase and improve cooperation in order to improve the basic work as well as to identify problems. A new development target is closer cooperation between guarding staff and social welfare and health care so as to help substance abusers at risk of social exclusion and to improve the safety of public facilities.

The Drug Policy Report of 2008 describing the drug situation and drug policy measures in 2008 was discussed at the Government's evening session on 16 September. The report describes the implementation of the Government Resolution on cooperation regarding drug policy for the years 2008-2011.

According to the report, more women with substance abuse problems are having children; around 6 per cent of all pregnant women are excessive users of alcohol. Each year about 3,000 foetuses are exposed to alcohol and drugs, and around 600children with symptoms related to alcohol exposure during foetal stage are born. A working group appointed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health examined how to ensure the care of pregnant women; one of its recommendations is to introduce the possibility of care against the woman's own will. The issue requires some legislative revisions, and these will be submitted to the Parliament during this electoral period.

The report highlights the success of the Finnish drug policy both in European and in international comparison. In Finland we have been able to expand the means available through long-lasting and intensive cooperation between authorities as well as through interaction with organisations. Also the implementation of effective measures to reduce drug-related harm, including low-threshold health counselling, has been successful in Finland, while at the same time the restrictive drug policy has been retained.

The overall objective of the Finnish drug policy is to prevent the use and spread of narcotic drugs so as to minimise the economic, social and individual harm and cost of their use and prevention. 

Drug use and drug-related harm increased in the 1990s during the so-called second drug wave, but in the 2000s the situation has stabilised. In 2005 there were about 14,500-19,000 amphetamine and opiate abusers in Finland. The use of new drugs in the market is monitored as a part of the rapid alert system of the EU drugs agency EMCDDA.

The Finnish drug policy is based on the 1997 Government drugs strategy, and it is planned as a part of the EU drugs strategy. Finland will take part in guiding the implementation of the EU Drugs Action Plan for 2009-2012 through, for example, the EMCDDA and the Europol Management Board. Finnish participation in international drugs cooperation entails the forums of the UN, the Council of Europe, and the Nordic Council of Ministers.

More information:

Mr Tapani Sarvanti, Ministerial Counsellor for Social Affairs, tel. (09) 160 73850


Attachments Huumausainepolitiikan kertomus vuodelta 2008  (STM:n selvityksiä 2009:21) (in Finnish)
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Drug policy

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