In Finland, use of all major illicit substances has increased over the last decade among the adult general population. Cannabis, mainly in herbal forms, remains the most common illicit drug used, and its use is mainly concentrated among young people aged 15-34 years. Amphetamines and MDMA/ecstasy are the most common illicit stimulants used by the general population, and their use is mainly concentrated among those aged 25-34 years. In Finland, in general, illicit drug use is more common among males than females.
According a 2014 study, fewer than 1 out of 10 Finnish adults had tried either a synthetic cannabinoid or a cathinone during their lifetime.
Since 2012, Helsinki and Turku have participated in the Europe-wide annual wastewater campaigns undertaken by the Sewage Analysis Core Group Europe (SCORE). In 2016, a further 12 Finnish cities joined the campaign. This study provides data on drug use at a community level, based on the levels of different illicit drugs and their metabolites in sources of wastewater. Regarding synthetic stimulants, an increased in methamphetamine concentration was detected in Helsinki and Espoo over the 2014-16 period. The levels of cocaine metabolites remained very low during the whole study period in the Finnish cities, indicating that the use of cocaine is limited. The concentrations of MDMA increased until 2015 and then levelled off.
Estimates of last-year cannabis use among young adults (15-34 years) in Finland
NB Estimated last-year prevalence of drug use in 2014.
Substance use among 15- to 16-year-old school students in Finland
NB Source: ESPAD study 2015.
Data on drug use among 15- to 16-year-old students is reported in the 2015 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). The survey has been conducted in Finland every four years since 1995. The results indicate that lifetime use of cannabis, illicit drugs other than cannabis and NPS are all below the ESPAD average (35 countries). In contrast to the cannabis use trend in the adult general population, it seems that the experimentation with cannabis among 15- to16-year-old students decreased over the period 2011-15.
Studies reporting estimates of high-risk drug use can help to identify the extent of the more entrenched drug use problems, while data on the first-time entrants to specialised drug treatment centres, when considered alongside other indicators, can inform understanding on the nature and trends in high-risk drug use.
Opioids, mainly illegally sold buprenorphine, and amphetamines, both injected, are the main substances linked to high-risk drug use in Finland. The estimated population sizes of high-risk opioid and high-risk amphetamines users are very similar; moreover, it is believed that a significant proportion of high-risk users use both substances.
The estimated population sizes of high-risk opioid and high-risk amphetamines users are very similar; moreover, it is believed that a significant proportion of high-risk users use both substances
National estimates of last year prevalence of high-risk opioid use
NBYear of data 2015, or latest available year.
Data from the specialised treatment centres indicate that opioids remain the principal drug associated with treatment demand among first-time clients, and treatment is mainly sought for primary use of buprenorphine. However, this is often used together with other licit or illicit substances. Fewer than a third of treatment clients are female; however this proportion varies by type of primary drug and by programme.
Characteristics and trends of drug users entering specialised drug treatment in Finland
NBYear of data 2015. Data is for first-time entrants, except for gender which is for all treatment entrants.