Services for substance abusers

The MSAH is responsible for the overall running of services for substance abusers. The ministry determines the direction of service development, draws up legislation and guides reforms. The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) and Regional State Administrative Agencies oversee service standards.

Municipalities are responsible for organising services. Services for substance abusers are to be arranged according to need. Municipalities may either produce such services themselves or do so jointly with other municipalities, or procure them from private service providers, such as NGOs.

Services for substance abusers are available in the form of

  • general social and health services
  • specialist services for substance abusers
  • a specific level of medical treatment

Service forms include

  • outpatient care
  • institutional care
  • rehabilitation
  • housing and support services

Substance abuse services include detoxification treatment to deal with withdrawal symptoms and other substance-induced problems. Short term round-the-clock institutional care usually lasts for one or two weeks.

Services that support treatment and rehabilitation comprise support and housing services. Treatment and rehabilitation are undertaken voluntarily and operate confidentially.

Who receives services?

Anyone can seek outpatient services but institutional care usually requires a referral. Those who are a endanger themselves or are violent problem substance abusers may be sent for treatment regardless of their wishes, but in practice this is unusual.

Who provides services?

Substance abuse services are organised by social and health service units. The A-Clinic Foundation and network of Youth Clinics provide specialised services at outpatient units.

Institutional care is arranged at detoxification clinics, rehabilitation centres and health care units.

Some child protection institutions have developed their activities to apply to substance abuse rehabilitation.

There are in addition numerous associations that provide peer support for substance abusers to remain substance-free.

Developing services for substance abusers

It is important to develop mental health and substance-free promotion, preventive substance and mental health work and the treatment of mental health disorders and substance abuse problems as collaborative social and health activities. The aim is to have easily accessible and flexible services and deal with mental disorders and substance abuse problems in one unit.

Further information

Helena Vorma, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Medical Affairs 
Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Department for Clients and Services in Healthcare and Social Welfare / APO, Service System Unit / PAL Telephone:0295163388   Email Address: