3. High drug-related death mortality in Finland – special focus on young adults and teenagers
The number of drug-related deaths (DRD) in Finland has increased over the past several years, and especially in 2020, compared to 2019.
In this study, we examined all DRD cases in 2020 and compared them to those from the previous years in order to discover trends and drivers that could explain the increase.
Buprenorphine and other opioids dominated as the primary intoxicant in DRD in 2020, as has been the case for nearly two decades. When compared to previous years, especially the number of young adults increased markedly. We will present numbers, trends and examples of death cases and the substances that caused them.
Finland is among those countries that have especially high overdose mortality. According to the most recent estimate, there were 31 100-44 300 high-risk drug users of amphetamines and opioids in Finland in 2017, which is 0.91-1.29 % of Finns aged 15-64. The number of high-risk drug users has nearly doubled from a previous study in 2012 and there was a particular increase in the age group 15-24 years. One of the measures taken is the expert group that the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has established to discuss and develop practical tools to counter increase in DRD. However, the alarming trend of increasing proportion of young adults and teenagers in DRD calls for distinct measures designed for this especially vulnerable group.