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  • Lauri Beekmann

Drug deaths - behind every number there is a person who is important to someone

08.11.2022 - Finland ranks first in Europe for drug-related deaths among people under the age of 25. This is evident from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Abuse EMCDDA's drug report, which was published in June 2022. The number of harms and drug-related deaths caused by drug use has increased in Finland, especially in the last ten years.

Substance abuse organisations are concerned about the bleak trend. "Encounters with loved ones who have died from drugs reveal that younger and younger people are dying from drugs. I am usually contacted by mothers, although many others are also affected by grief. There is also a need for bereavement groups for other family members and friends," says Mira Reponen from Irti Huumeista ry.

According to Reponen, the stories of loved ones who have died from drugs are so hard that other mourners might not be able to bear to listen to them. That is why we need to have bereavement groups for people who have died from drugs. In their feedback, relatives have told us that deaths caused by drugs are seen as less important.

Behind every drug-related death statistic is a person who is important to someone - a child, a sister or brother, a mother or father, a partner or friend. For those close to them, substance misuse death often brings a range of emotions, including sadness and pain, shame and inadequacy.

"A friend invited me to a party, but I didn't go. I wanted to stay away from drugs. If I had gone, he might be alive. I believed for a long time that I was part of the reason he was gone," says Iina (name changed), who is recovering from drug use.

Drug-related death is always an early death, and much could be done to prevent it. THL has developed the Finnish model for drug death prevention. It presents effective methods that should be promoted in Finland. Substance abuse organisations also see the model as an important tool that should be used to support policy-making. The organisations call for a diverse network of services offering support for different individual needs through preventive, rehabilitative and harm reduction work. Support must be available quickly and easily.

Information on drug-related deaths in Finland

# Relative to the size of the population, Finland has the highest number of drug-related deaths among young people under 25 in Europe.

# Drug-related deaths occur more than ten years younger than the European average.

# In 2021, there were 206 drug poisoning deaths. Of these, 60 were under the age of 25.

The traditional memorial service for those who have died from drug-related causes will be held at the Old Church in Helsinki on Tuesday 8.11.2022 at 18.00. The event will commemorate those who have died from drug-related causes and light candles in their memory. The event is organised in cooperation with Irti Huumeista ry, Tukikohta ry, Stop Huumeille ry, KRAN rf, A-klinikkasäätiö, EHYT ry, EPT-verkosto, Sininauhaliitto, Myllyhoitoyhdistys ry.

Memorial services for people who have died from drugs or intoxicants are held at least in 18 places. For more information on the events:

You can also remember a loved one who has died of substance abuse virtually by lighting a star in their memory or writing an obituary:

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Oct 21, 2023
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