Thursday 28.05.2020

Deaths caused by drug and alcohol use increase sharply in Finland

261 persons died from drugs in 2018, which was 61 more than the previous year. In relative terms, mortality from drugs is higher in Finland and in other Nordic countries than elsewhere in Europe. 1,683 persons died from alcohol-related diseases, an increase of 100 persons from the year before.

Deaths caused by drug and alcohol use increase sharply in Finland

Finland has long since ceased to be a country little affected by the use of illegal drugs

The damage caused to public health and society by the sale and uncontrolled consumption of these substances still seems small compared to other larger countries, but the figures are increasing. Especially among people under 30 years old, the group in which deaths increase the most.

According to the latest official numbers published by Statistics Finland, 261 persons died from drugs in 2018, which was 61 persons more than in 2017. The number of deaths caused by drugs have increased three years in a row.

Deaths increased most in the age group 20 to 29. A majority of drug-related deaths were accidental poisonings from multiple substances where the effect from drugs was dominant. It is striking that in 2018 all types of deaths related to drug use, including suicides, increased compared to the previous year.

Drug-related-deaths-2016-2018

Source: Statistics Finland.

Long-term drug use

Deaths caused by long-term drug use increased most in relative terms. In 2018, altogether 49 such deaths that are usually caused by drug addiction occurred, while in 2017 the number was 29.

A majority (65%) of drug-related deaths were, however, accidental poisonings, which in 2018 numbered 169. The number is higher than in previous years. In 2018, additionally 35 suicides were committed with drugs, which was 13 more than in the previous year.

A majority of drug-related deaths are poisonings from multiple substances where the person has, in addition to drugs, used, for example, psychopharmacons and/or alcohol. The most common form is combined use of drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Three out of four drug-related deaths were associated with overdoses of opioids. To a large part, the most effective substance was synthetic pharmaceutical opioids.

In 2018, there were 4.7 drug-related deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. Mortality from drugs is higher in Finland and also in other Nordic countries than elsewhere in Europe. Over 70% of those who died from drugs were men, but women committed most suicides with drugs.

In Finland, drug-related deaths focus on younger age groups than on average in Europe. The average age at death caused by drugs was 33 years for men and 39 years for women. Growth occurred in nearly all age groups, but deaths increased most in the age group 20 to 29. The biggest group of drug-related deaths was men aged 25 to 29.

Drug-related-deaths

Source: Statistics Finland.

Deaths from alcohol also increased

Deaths from alcohol-related causes increased in 2018 from 2017 but were still clearly below the top years 2007 to 2009 when more than 2,000 persons died from alcohol-related causes. In total 1,683 persons died from alcohol-related diseases and alcohol poisonings. Of them, 1,269 were men and 414 women. An increase of 100 persons from the year before.

Three out of four persons dying from alcohol-related causes were aged 55 or over. The share of alcohol-related causes in all deaths was 3%.

Deaths from alcohol-related causes include alcohol-related diseases and accidental alcohol poisonings. More than one-half of deaths from alcohol-related causes stemmed from liver diseases caused by alcohol. Heart and liver diseases caused by alcohol, as well as alcohol poisonings increased from last year.

In 2018, the number of deaths from alcohol poisonings increased for the first time since 2006. A total of 255 persons died from alcohol poisonings, which was good 40 persons more than in the year before. More than one-half of those who died were men aged between 45 and 64. The share of alcohol poisonings in all deaths from alcohol-related causes has decreased from 26% to 15% over a ten-year period.

Alcohol-deaths-2017-2018Source: Statistics Finland.

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