Drug Abuse in the Global Village



                        Extent of Drug Abuse

A national population survey (18 to 74 age range) estimates annual abuse of cannabis by 45,000 persons, followed by 26,000 annual abusers of medical preparations, 2,200 abusers of cocaine and 2,200 abusers of amphetamines (U.N. 1991).

            A youth survey carried out in 1991 (14 to 18 age range) found that annual abuse of illicit drugs was the highest for cannabis (1.2 per cent), followed by narcotic medical preparations (0.7 per cent) (Table 1).

Table 1. Drug use among 14 to 18 years old in Finland, 1991 in percentages.
                  Ever           Any use         Any use
                  use last year  last month
Opiates      0.6
Cocaine     0.2 0.06       0.3
Cannabis    4.8 1.2        
amine         0.15           0.06
 Medicines 2.6 0.7         0.3
 Solvents    0.6
Other         0.6
Source: Reply to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaire for the year 1991.

            A one day national survey of illicit drug abuse among clients covered by the social health and welfare services carried out in 1991 found a total of 7,631 cases of intoxicant abuse in the given day. The survey found that 96.4 per cent of those surveyed abused alcohol, 13.3 per cent cannabis, 3.6 per cent used narcotic medical preparations, 2.8 per cent other drugs not specified and 2.5 per cent volatile solvents. Multiple drug use was found to be common (U.N. 1991).

                       Abuser Characteristics

In the general population, drug abuse is more pronounced among the 18 to 24 age group (U.N. 1991).

            The youth survey mentioned above indicates that 7 per cent of the males compared to 4 per cent of the females "ever" abused illicit drugs (6 per cent of the males and 4 per cent of the females for cannabis; 1 per cent of the males and 0.2 per cent of the females for volatile solvents). Sex differences for use of medical preparations were not significant (U.N. 1991).

                         Regional  Variations

Drug abuse is concentrated in Helsinki and other urban areas (U.N. 1991).


An increase in the abuse of narcotic medical preparations in combination with alcohol has been reported in 1991 (U.N. 1991). Initiation to drug abuse has gone down in 1991,  but remains 2 to 3 years higher than in the early 1970s (U.N. 1991). Survey results have shown that the number of persons who knew someone experimenting with drugs has doubled in 1991 compared with 1981.

            Transit trafficking through Finland has increased. According to police information, abuse of cannabis and amphetamines is reported to be increasing (U.N. 1991).

                             Mode of intake

About 0.1 per cent of drug abusers are reported to have "ever" injected drugs (U.N. 1991).


Drug related deaths. Approximately one drug related death is reported per year. This is considered a relatively small percentage compared to deaths caused by alcoholism (Finland 1991).

HIV seroprevalence/AIDS. About 3 per cent of 129 AIDS cases reported in Finland in 1993 injected drugs (AIDS in Europe, 1993). The number of HIV infected persons in 1990 was 371, of which 14 or 5 per cent had been infected through intravenous drug abuse (Finland 1991).


                           National Strategy

The Department for Promotion of Health and Social Welfare of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for all drug related matters except for welfare of drug addicts and alcoholics which is the responsibility of the National Agency for Welfare and Health (Finland 1991).

      Structure of National Drug Control Organs

The central government unit responsible for liaison and coordination of national drug control policy is the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.


                           Treaty adherence

Finland is party to the 1961 Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol and the 1971 Convention. As regards ratification of the 1988 Convention, changes in the legislation concerning drug offences and drug control were reported to be in the preparation stage in the Ministry of Justice as well as the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. Ratification of the new legislation was expected to be completed by the beginning of 1993.

    Measures taken with respect to Drug Control

Recently enacted laws and regulations:
A general reform of the criminal code has been undertaken since 1988. New penal provisions concerning narcotics offences which will be moved from the Narcotics Act to the Criminal Code have been drafted. A special working group was set up in 1988 to prepare the amendments required by the 1988 Convention.

Licensing system for manufacture, trade and distribution:
There is a government-controlled licensing system for both narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Diphenoxylate (narcotic drug) and metamfetamine (psychotropic substance) were reported having been manufactured in 1991.
Control system:
(i) Prescription requirement: There is a prescription requirement for supply or dispensation of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(ii) Warnings on packages: The law requires warnings on packages or accompanying leaflet information to safeguard the users of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(iii) Control of non-treaty substances, if any: None reported.
(iv) Other administrative measures: A working group investigating possibilities for substitution treatment was reported having been set up in 1991 in the National Agency of Social Welfare and Health.

                            Social Measures

Penal Sanctions related to social measures: In 1991, courts applied measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation or social reintegration for a drug-related offence neither as an alternative nor in addition to conviction or punishment.

Other social measures: None reported.


                          Primary Prevention

Prevention activities on drug abuse also include tobacco and alcohol prevention. The National Board of Education is preparing new national targets for the curricula. Prevention through education is carried out in primary and secondary schools. Neutral and matter of fact information is given to young people in order to avoid increasing their interest in drugs. Focus is also placed on leisure activities in the campaigning against drug abuse (CMO 1991).

            Parents of drug abusing youth have established a parent's association for prevention and intervention activities (CMO 1991).

            AIDS prevention. AIDS Centre in 5 cities and the Finnish Red Cross are the most important civic organizations working for AIDS prevention (CMO 1991).

                 Treatment and Rehabilitation

Approximately 0.6 per cent of the social welfare fund is allocated to treatment of drug and alcohol addicts. Treatment is provided on a voluntary basis, however involuntary treatment is possible under strict criteria. Out-patient treatment is free of charge, treatment in specialized centres is at a small cost. Drug abuse treatment is not separated from alcohol abuse treatment (CMO 1991).

            Some of the larger treatment centres consist of 3 therapeutic communities (approximately 450 patients), 1 specialized detoxification facility (336 patients), psychiatric hospitals caring for about 300 patients, general hospitals with about 200 patients and 1 hospital unit concentrated on the treatment of alcoholic diseases (39 patients). Other smaller facilities also exist (CMO 1991).

            In 1991, 973 persons received treatment in hospitals, mostly men. The largest proportion of patients were undergoing alcohol addiction treatment, followed by narcotic medical preparations, amphetamine addiction, opiates abuse, cannabis and volatile solvent abuse (CMO 1991).

            Substitute substances are not used as part of the detoxification treatment except for methadone maintenance programmes available for opiate users only in one hospital. Expansion of substitution programmes is under discussion. For detoxification programmes which are carried out without use substitute substances the relapse rate is about 30 per cent. In 1991, 90 persons were undergoing an in patient detoxification treatment, 60 for the first time. About 30 per cent of these were women (CMO 1991).


      Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences

In 1991, a total of 2,392 drug related offences were reported mainly possession offences (1,165) and drug abuse offences (949) . Of the total offences, 1,627 related to cannabis, followed by depressants (384), stimulants (305), heroin (42), cocaine (10), morphine (14) and 7 for LSD. Most convicted were between 19 and 25 years of age (U.N. 1991).


For 1991, 101.295 kg of cannabis resin and 6.031 kg of herbal cannabis were seized, an increase from 1990 (71.179 kg and 0.599 kg respectively). Cocaine seizures decreased from 10.783 kg in 1989 to 0.036 kg in 1990 but increased again in 1991 to 38.142 kg. Other reported seizures in 1991 were 0.664 kg of heroin, 34,640 units of depressants, 27 units of LSD and 44.705 kg of stimulants (U.N. 1991).
                      Supply Source of Drugs

The supply of illicit drugs from different parts of the former Soviet Union increased in 1992 (Letter from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to UNDCP, 23 July 1992). Cannabis resin is reported in 1991 to originate from Morocco, cocaine from Colombia, stimulants from the Netherlands and heroin from the Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark (U.N. 1991). Depressants reach the illicit market through theft from pharmacies or by forgery of prescriptions (U.N. 1991).

                       References and Notes

** The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was prepared by the Secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs based on Annual Reports Questionnaires for the years 1988-91.

Finland 1991. National Report of Finland to the First Pan-European Ministerial Conference on co-operation on illicit drug abuse problems, Oslo 9-10 May 1991

AIDS in Europe 1993. AIDS surveillance in Europe, Quarterly Report No. 38, 30 June 1993.

U.N. 1990,1991. Replies to UNDCP Annual Reports Questionnaire for the years 1990 and 1991.

CMO 1991 Replies to UNDCP questionnaire concerning the seven targets of the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control (CMO) (1991).