Sweden country overview

Sweden country overview

Map of Sweden

About NFP: 

The national focal point is located within the Public Health Agency of Sweden, which is responsible for national public health issues. The agency promotes good public health by building and disseminating knowledge to healthcare professionals and others responsible for infectious disease control and public health.

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Last updated: Thursday, May 26, 2016

Drug use among the general population and young people

Content for prevalence: 

An annual public health survey has been carried out in Sweden since 2004 among 20 000 randomly selected adults aged 16–84 (with a response rate of around 50 %). It includes a question on cannabis use, which enables the trend in cannabis use in Sweden to be described, rather than year-to-year differences. The latest data are available from 2014. A new question about the use of illicit drugs other than cannabis was added to the questionnaire in the latest survey. An analysis of the entire time series shows that the trend is stable at the same level for both sexes, in terms of both experimental use and more regular use among a sub-sample of 16- to 64-year-olds. There are substantial gender differences in cannabis use. Lifetime prevalence for males was higher at the start of the time series (17.6 % in 2004) and at the end (18 % in 2010; 17.2 % in 2011; 17.5 % in 2012; 18.5 % in 2014). Women were significantly less likely to use cannabis (10.4 % in 2010; 11 % in 2011; 12.2 % in 2012; 10.2 % in 2014) and this pattern is consistent over time and between age groups. Last year and last month prevalence of cannabis use was considerably lower than lifetime prevalence for both genders, but indicated a slight increase in cannabis use over the past 10 years, with higher cannabis use prevalence rates for males than females. In 2014 about 4.1 % of males and 1.6 % of females aged 16–64 reported cannabis use in past 12 months. Prevalence of cannabis use was significantly higher for younger ages than for the whole adult population, with those aged 16–24 reporting the highest rates of cannabis use in the last 12 months (10.1 % of males and 5.3 % of females). The overall trend indicates an increasing proportion of younger individuals reporting cannabis use in the last 12 month. This increase has been noticeably greater among those living in larger cities. Regarding more recent use, 2.2 % of males and 1.2 % of females aged 16–24 reported they had used cannabis within the last 30 days in 2014.

In 2013 a cross-sectional study of substance use was conducted using a nationally representative sample of the population with a sample size of 11 206 respondents aged 17–64. Similar to other studies, cannabis is the most commonly used drug, followed by amphetamines and cocaine. Males and females aged 17–24 reported more frequent use of cannabis and other illicit substances in the last year and last 30 days than did older respondents.

School surveys on drug use have been carried out in Sweden annually since 1971 by the Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and other Drugs (CAN). Reported lifetime prevalence for illicit drugs among students aged 15–16 was highest in the 1970s (15 %) and subsequently fell to its lowest level in 1989 (3 %). The rate then rose again to 8 % in 2000, and has since remained at between 5 % and 8 %. In 2014 national school surveys on drug use were carried out among students in the 9th grade (aged 15–16) and the 11th grade (aged 17–18). Cannabis was by far the most common substance mentioned by 15- to 16-year-olds (7 %). About 2% of students in the 9th grade reported they had used a new psychoactive substance at some point in their life.

The latest European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) in 2011 showed that, as in most European countries, cannabis was the illicit drug that students had most frequently used in their lifetime. Lifetime prevalence was 9 % for students aged 15–16 (11 % among males and 5 % among females). In 2011 lifetime prevalence was 11 % for inhalants, 2 % for ecstasy, and 1 % for other substances. Last year prevalence of cannabis use was 6 % (5 % in 2003 and 2007), and last month prevalence of cannabis use was 3 % (2 % in 2007; 1 % in 2003), with a higher rate among males than females.

Look for Prevalence of drug use in the Statistical bulletin for more information.


Content for prevention: 

Drug prevention activities in Sweden are a key element of the policy strategy A Comprehensive Strategy for Alcohol, Narcotics, Doping and Tobacco (ANDT) for 2016–20. The strategy builds on the previous strategy for 2011–15, but with a clearer social and gender equality perspective compared with the previous one. The child and youth perspective is also clearer. The organisation and implementation of prevention activities for licit and illicit substances is cross-sectorial and involves several agencies’ areas of responsibility. The Public Health Agency of Sweden and the National Board of Health and Welfare are central agencies that support those working in the area at the local and regional level. The Public Health Agency of Sweden is also responsible for monitoring the public health policy and the ANDT strategy. In the new strategy the Agency is given a stronger and clearer role in supporting the implementation of the ANDT strategy. Regional governments are responsible of coordinating preventive work in the ANDT sphere at the regional level. All 21 counties have a county coordinator to synchronise and promote evidence-based prevention measures at the regional and local level, and in 2013 a total of 11 counties had substance use prevention strategies in place. Municipalities also bear the main responsibility for the implementation of prevention measures. Approximately 81 % of the municipalities have now appointed a full-time or part-time drug coordinator for alcohol and drug prevention work at the community level, and a key component in preventive work is the support of municipality management.

School-based prevention interventions, mostly non-manualised, play an important role in municipalities and schools, and they are mainly implemented in the context of promoting a healthy school environment. They cover both licit and illicit substances. Several interventions focus on the development of children’s social and emotional capacity, and many schools also have in place interventions that involve parents.

A number of community-based programmes at the municipal level focus on the provision of alternative leisure activities and ensure safe recreational settings, primarily in cooperation with sports organisations, the temperance movement, police and other community-based organisations.

The number of programmes for parents about alcohol and drugs has also increased, as has the research on them. The International Child Development Programme, Komet and COPE are implemented in about a quarter of municipalities. The Örebro programme has been implemented in several versions, among them Effekt, which is also being implemented in Slovenia, Estonia and — in an adapted version — the Netherlands (see the respective country profiles). Community Parent Education, a prevention programme for parents with children aged 2–13, is implemented in about 20 % of communities. The programme aims to improve parenting skills, assist parents to manage their children’s behaviour and help them to create supportive family networks.

Selective prevention activities mainly include early detection programmes for individuals suspected of drug abuse (young people, drivers and people suspected of minor offences) and programmes for children from families where parents are addicted to alcohol or drugs, with mental health problems and violence. Comet for Parents, a well-researched prevention programme for parents with 3- to 18-year-old children with externalising behaviour problems, has shown a positive effect on the children’s behaviour and the parents’ parenting skills.

In recent years an increasing number of recreational settings, such as clubs and restaurants, have adopted environmental prevention measures, such as norm-setting among staff and the use of controlling approaches that limit drug-intoxicated clients’ access to the setting. About 15 % of Swedish municipalities had programmes in recreational settings in 2012.

Prevention of cannabis use among young people is the main focus of the recent National Strategy. Additional funding has been allocated to special projects, training and networking in this area. In addition, a new commission was set-up by the Government in 2012 to compile research on and evaluate drug prevention activities, with a specific focus on cannabis.

See the Prevention profile for Sweden for more information. 

Problem drug use

Content for problem drug use: 

Up to 2012 the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) defined problem drug use as injecting drug use or long duration/regular use of opiates, cocaine and/or amphetamines. However, in 2012 a new definition of ‘high-risk drug use’ was adopted. The new definition includes ‘problem drug use’, but is broader (mainly in its inclusion of high-risk use of more substances). Details are available here.

The most recent estimate (for 2007) of the number of high-risk drug users (HRDUs) in Sweden was 29 513 (4.9 high-risk drug users per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64). According to the available estimates, the number of HRDUs has been more or less constant since 1998. High-risk drug use in Sweden is dominated by amphetamines and heroin.

In 2012 the National Board of Health and Welfare, using the capture–recapture method, estimated that there were about 8 000 injecting drug users in Sweden, which corresponds to a rate of 1.31 per 1 000 inhabitants aged 15–64.

Look for High-risk drug use in the Statistical bulletin for more information. 

Treatment demand

Content for treatment demand: 

Treatment demand data in Sweden are collected from three different information sources: (i) the National Patient Registry (PAR), to which treatment providers are required to report by law, and which collects data from outpatient and inpatient treatment services within the health and medical sector; (ii) the prison and probation services’ register based on Addiction Severity Index (ASI) interviews conducted for a proportion of clients with substance use problems; (iii) the DOK system, managed by the National Board of Institutional Care, which covers data for clients admitted to compulsory treatment. Data collection is mandatory only for the PAR system, which is managed by the National Board of Health and Welfare. The Public Health Agency of Sweden (the national focal point) receives the aggregated data from the three sources and fills in the treatment demand indicator (TDI) standard table. The data are not pooled together, but are reported as separate tables for inpatient, outpatient and prison treatment for most years.

Data on treatment entries for 2014 were reported by 181 outpatient units, 106 inpatient units and 43 treatment units in prisons. A total of 37 357 clients entered treatment during the reporting year, of which 9 642 were new clients entering treatment for the first time. It should be noted that these numbers are not controlled for double counting so one patient could be reported more than once; also, some of the sources are not representative of the whole population. Among all treatment clients, treatment demands were linked mainly to opioids (23 %), followed by cannabis (12 %) and hypnotics and sedatives (11 %). Among new treatment clients, the majority of treatment demands were linked to cannabis (19 %), followed hypnotics and sedatives (16 %) and opioids (13 %). About 41 % of all treatment clients reported injecting drug use, with amphetamine being the main drug used by injection.

Look for Treatment demand indicator in the Statistical bulletin for more information. 

Drug-related infectious diseases

Content for drug-related infectious diseases: 

Statutory surveillance of communicable diseases is regulated in the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Act in Sweden, and notifications are submitted to the County Medical Officer of Communicable Disease Control (one in each of the 21 counties in Sweden) and to the Public Health Agency of Sweden. Additional information on drug-related infectious diseases among people who inject drugs (PWID) is collected through knowledge, attitude and behaviour surveys and a second generation surveillance programme covering needle and syringe exchange programmes and prison.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) continues to be the infection that most commonly affects PWID. In 2014 some 1 786 new cases of HCV infection were notified through the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, of which 757 were through injecting drug use. Various studies conducted during the last 15 years indicate that HCV prevalence among PWID ranges between 60 % and 80 %.

Domestic spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection continues to decrease. In 2014 a total of eight new HIV cases among PWID were notified in Sweden (source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control). Four of these cases were likely to have originated in Sweden. In 2014 the number of notified cases of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection through injecting drug use was 38, indicating a small increase compared to 2013.

Look for Drug-related infectious diseases in the Statistical bulletin for more information. 

Drug-induced deaths and mortality

Content for drug-induced deaths: 

Drug-induced deaths data originate from the Cause of Death Register at the National Board of Health and Welfare (the ICD system), which includes almost 99 % of all deaths occurring in Sweden. Data extraction and reporting is in line with EMCDDA definitions and recommendations.

In 2014 a total of 609 drug-induced deaths were reported in Sweden, showing a significant increase when compared with 2013 (460 drug-induced deaths), and continuing an increasing trend since 2003 when 211 drug-induced deaths were reported. Of the 609 cases reported in 2014 some 451 were male. The mean age of victims was 39.6 years, which is a slight decrease compared to 2013. Toxicology reports were available for almost all cases (597), and the data indicate the presence of opiates in the majority (507) of these cases, although in a large proportion they were in combination with other substances.

The drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15–64) was 92.9 deaths per million in 2014, more than four times the most recent European average of 19.2 deaths per million.

Look for Drug-related deaths in the Statistical bulletin for more information. 

Treatment responses

Content for treatment responses: 

In Sweden, drug treatment is organised by the social services in local communities (specialised outpatient clinics), hospitals (providing detoxification) or therapeutic communities. The National Board of Institutional Care provides compulsory treatment (up to a maximum of six months) in special cases. Drug treatment is also offered for those in prisons and on probation.

Funding for substance treatment, including treatment delivered by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is provided by the public budget of the municipalities, which are subsidised by state funds. In the case of NGOs, public funding is handled by the National Board of Health and Welfare, and is based on applications submitted by the NGOs. About 80 % of outpatient services are provided by municipalities, county councils or the state, while 60 % of all inpatient services are provided by municipalities in private and non-governmental organisations. There are treatment facilities specifically for drug users, but as a rule of thumb drug use treatment takes place alongside treatment for alcohol and/or other addictions or mental illnesses. County councils are responsible for the provision of detoxification, opioid substitution treatment and the treatment of psychiatric co-morbidities, while municipalities have overall responsibility for long-term rehabilitation through social services in so-called ‘homes for care and living’ or ‘family homes’. Many of those ‘homes’ are privately operated. Social reintegration interventions seem to be limited in availability and coverage. Psychosocial and medical treatment and psychosocial support services are provided in inpatient settings. Cognitive behavioural therapy, methods of aggression replacement treatment and relapse and motivational interviewing are applied in compulsory treatment.

The Medical Products Agency’s Code Statutes LVFS 2004:15 stipulate that only treatment centres can initiate, and should be predominantly involved in, opioid substitution treatment (OST). Methadone (introduced in 1967) and buprenorphine-based medications (introduced in 1999) are the only officially recognised pharmaceutical substances for OST. The guidelines on OST treatment presented by the National Board of Health and Welfare give a priority to a buprenorphine-based medication in OST treatment. According to the most recent study from 2013 there are about 110 OST units in Sweden. OST with methadone has always been subject to strict regulation. Since the new guidelines for OST came into force in January 2005 the provision of medically assisted treatment increased up to 2011; however, some decline is observed in recent years. At the same time, some centres have introduced ‘zero tolerance’ against lateral drug use, which leads to low retention rates in the treatment. In cases of lateral drug use, the clients are frequently referred to another type of treatment. A number of clinical trials have been conducted in Sweden to increase the retention rates in medically assisted treatment through the administration of structured psychosocial interventions.

The latest available data indicate that in 2014 a total of 3 502 clients were in opioid substitution treatment in Sweden, of whom 1 520 received methadone and 2 071 received buprenorphine-based medication.

See the Treatment profile for Sweden for additional information. 

Harm reduction responses

Content for harm reduction responses: 

The National Action Plan on Drugs (2011–15) endorses the visionary goal of a society free from narcotics, while one of its long-term objectives is to reduce the harm caused by the use of alcohol, narcotics, doping and tobacco. The evaluation of the National Action Plan on Drugs (2006–10) suggested that county councils should broaden the range of evidence-based interventions targeting drug users, including needle and syringe exchange. To support the health promotion and prevention efforts among PWID implemented at the regional level, the Public Health Agency of Sweden launched guidelines on the prevention of infectious diseases, based on the EMCDDA and ECDC joint guideline ‘Prevention and control of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs’ (2011). 

The first needle and syringe programme (NSP) in Sweden began operation in 1986. In 2006 the Swedish government passed a law formally allowing the 21 counties (län) to introduce needle and syringe exchange programmes. Regulations concerning these programmes were drawn up by the National Board of Health and Welfare in February 2007 and define the procedures county councils have to follow. These include: a justification of need (e.g. an estimate of the number of potential service users); an assessment of available resources; and a provision plan for complementary and additional care services (e.g. detox, drug treatment and aftercare). The regulations also stipulate the obligation for NSPs to inform clients about injecting risks and to offer additional services, including vaccinations and testing for infectious diseases, and they define further quality management rules for the implementation of such services. Drug users are eligible to participate in an NSP when they offer proof of identity and are 20 years of age or older.

At the end of 2014 there were six NSPs in place in Sweden, three of which were opened in 2013–14. The programmes are located in three counties: Stockholm, Kalmar and Skåne. Approximately 204 000 syringes were given out and about 2 266 clients were served in 2014 in these NSPs.

The NSPs assist drug users with other medical/social support, offer free HIV, HBV and HCV testing and refer them to drug-free treatment within the social services. Pharmacies are not entitled to sell needles/syringes to people without a prescription for medical use, such as for diabetes care, etc.

To improve bystander response to opioid overdose events, a pilot study covering first aid training and the distribution of opioid antagonist naloxone kits to those who are likely to witness overdoses started in 2015 in one of the counties.

See the Harm reduction overview for Sweden for additional information. 

Drug markets and drug-law offences

Content for Drug markets and drug-law offences: 

Most of the drugs seized in Sweden are smuggled in from another European Union (EU) country. They are mainly smuggled into the country via the bridge connection with Denmark, ports, international airports, and recently via postal consignments. Professional full-scale illegal indoor cultivation of marijuana is spreading within the country, mainly operated by Vietnamese networks. Small-scale outdoor cannabis cultivation, synthetic drug manufacturing and diversion of narcotic pharmaceuticals also occur, but these are judged to be of limited importance for availability and supply. In the recent years, new psychoactive substances have emerged in Sweden, mainly trafficked from China.

According to police and customs reports, cannabis is the illegal drug most frequently seized in Sweden. Herbal cannabis available in the market originates from domestic production, while some cannabis products are also smuggled from the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Albania. Cannabis resin originates mainly from Morocco, but usually enters Sweden through other EU Member States. Amphetamines mostly originate from the Netherlands, Poland and Lithuania, and brown heroin comes from Afghanistan, transiting Turkey into the Balkan countries. Cocaine seized in Sweden originates in South America, and is increasingly smuggled by criminal networks based in Balkan countries.

In 2014 the number of seizures and quantity of seized herbal cannabis increased when compared to previous years, reaching the record amount of 1 040.6 kg seized in 10 028 police operations. The quantity of cannabis resin decreased from 1 159.6 kg in 2013 to 876.7 kg in 2014. Overall, there has been a slight decrease in amphetamine seizures since 2006, while quantities seized have some annual variations; they seem to be above those reported in 2012. In 2014 a total of 413.4 kg and 1 415 tablets of amphetamine were seized. In 2013 the figures were 631.2 kg and 807 tablets, while in 2012 Sweden reported seizures of 314.4 kg and 3 003 tablets of amphetamine. Methamphetamine seizures, after reaching a maximum in 2009, stabilised for the period 2010–12 and decreased in 2013, and the quantity of methamphetamine seized is decreasing (164 kg in 2009; 46.8 kg in 2012; 45.52 kg in 2013; 25.6 kg in 2014). In 2014 police reports indicated the presence of crystal methamphetamine in Sweden. Ecstasy seizures have increased dramatically in the last three years, and the quantity of ecstasy tablets seized increased from 2 400 to 38 630 tablets between 2009 and 2012, then decreased in following years to 6 105 tablets and 8.2 kg of powder seized in 2014. The amount of heroin seized decreased from 58 kg in 2010 to 6.13 kg in 2013, while in 2014 a total of 514 seizures involved heroin and 23.5 kg of substance were seized. The number of cocaine seizures has increased since 2011, indicating greater availability, but the annual amounts seized are highly variable. In 2014 a total of 29 kg of cocaine powder was seized.

According to the official criminal statistics for Sweden, there has been a steady increase in the number of drug-law offences registered until 2013, with 99 175 drug-law offences reported, while in 2014 the number of reported drug-law offences slightly reduced to 95 324. Although drug-use offences predominate, the steepest increase in the past decade has been in production-related offences. The number of people convicted with a drug offence as the main crime has more than doubled over the last 10 years. Amphetamines and cannabis remain the two most common illegal substances in the convictions statistics.

Look for Drug-law offences in the Statistical bulletin for additional data. 

National drug laws

Content for National drug laws: 

The Act on the Control of Narcotic Drugs regulates trade in narcotics for medicinal or industrial purposes. The use and possession of illicit drugs are criminal offences under the Narcotic Drugs Punishment Act. Possession is punished according to three degrees of severity for drug offences: minor, ordinary and serious. The degree of offence takes into consideration the nature and quantity of drugs and other circumstances. Penalties for minor drug offences consist of fines or up to six months’ imprisonment; for ordinary drug offences up to three years’ imprisonment; and for serious drug offences 2–10 years’ imprisonment. The penalties for drug trafficking offences regulated in the Law on Penalties for Smuggling are identical to the penalties provided in the Narcotic Drugs Punishment Act.

Sweden also operates a system of classifying substances as ‘goods dangerous to health’, which may be used to control goods that, by reason of their innate characteristics, entail a danger to human life or health and are being used, or can be assumed to be used, for the purpose of intoxication or other influence. Importing such goods is punished in the same way as for drugs offences, whereas possession and transfer are punished by up to one year of imprisonment. A new Act came into effect in 2011 to enable the confiscation and destruction of new psychoactive substances before their official classification as narcotics, but with no other penalty for the owner.

Go to the European Legal Database on Drugs (ELDD) for additional information. 

National drug strategy

Content for National drug strategy: 

The current Swedish drug strategy, A Comprehensive Strategy for Alcohol, Narcotics, Doping and Tobacco (ANDT), was adopted in February 2016. Covering the period 2016–20, the strategy has the same overall objective as its predecessors — which is a society free from narcotics and doping, reduced medical and social harm from alcohol and reduced tobacco use.

ANDT is one of eleven objective domains in the national public health policy, which has the overarching objective to ‘create social conditions to ensure good health, on equal terms, for the entire population’.

Swedish ANDT policy covers both legal (alcohol and tobacco) and illegal (narcotics and doping substances) drugs. This means that the conditions vary, but one common starting point in ANDT policy is the right of each and every person to have the best possible physical and mental health.

ANDT policy is also part of Swedish welfare and rests on solidarity. This means that restrictions to personal freedom can be accepted in order to protect public health, which is expressed, for example, in strong support for the Swedish alcohol monopoly, age limits for the purchase of alcohol and tobacco, and the criminalisation of narcotics and doping.

For everyone to have the chance of maintaining good health, general measures need to be supplemented with measures targeted at people living in socially vulnerable situations as a result of substance abuse or addiction.

The current ANDT 2016–20 strategy builds on the previous strategy (which ran from 2011 to 2015) by taking advantage of the experience and knowledge acquired during that period. The new strategy has a clearer social and gender equality perspective compared with the previous strategy. The child and youth perspective is also clearer.

The strategy is structured around six objectives that are designed to help achieve the overarching objective:

  1. Access to alcohol, narcotics, doping substances and tobacco must be reduced.
  2. The number of children and young people who start to use narcotics, doping substances and tobacco or who start drinking alcohol at a young age must be progressively reduced.
  3. The number of women and men, as well as girls and boys, who become involved in the harmful use or abuse of or dependence on alcohol, narcotics, doping substances or tobacco must be progressively reduced.
  4. Women and men, as well as girls and boys, with abuse or addiction problems must be given greater access to good-quality care and support on the basis of their circumstances and needs.
  5. The number of women and men, as well as girls and boys, who die or are injured as a result of their own or others' use of alcohol, narcotics, doping substances or tobacco must be reduced.
  6. An EU and international approach to ANDT that is based on public health.

There are fields of action for each objective that the Government considers to be most important for steering developments towards the objectives set.

Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs

Content for Coordination mechanism in the field of drugs: 

At central governmental level, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is responsible for work related to the ANDT strategy.

There are a number of national agencies that help in various ways to implement ANDT policy. The Public Health Agency of Sweden and the National Board of Health and Welfare are central agencies that support those working in the area at the local and regional level. The Public Health Agency of Sweden is also responsible for following up public health policy and the ANDT strategy. In the 2016–20 strategy the Agency is given a stronger and clearer role in supporting the implementation of the ANDT strategy.

The State also has a regional organisation comprising 21 county administrative boards. They coordinate and support the implementation of the ANDT strategy in each county by weighing up national knowledge against local and regional conditions.

There has been a national council for ANDT issues since 2008 and this is likely to continue during the strategy period 2016–20. The council includes relevant agencies and the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, researchers and representatives of civil society organisations. It is a forum for dialogue on development, commitments and needs for measures between the Government and relevant agencies and other organisations that are important for achieving the objectives of the ANDT strategy.

Public expenditure

Content for Public expenditure: 

A five-year strategy covering the years 2011–15 was adopted by the Swedish Parliament in March 2011, and every year the government adopts one-year action programmes describing priorities for the coming year in more detail. In this framework, the Swedish Government details an annual budget for some drug-related activities, in line with the principles of the Action Plan. Prevention and treatment are not budgeted for because they are financed by regional or local authorities. Six estimates of drug-related public expenditures have been made in Sweden, but the study for 2002 (1) is the only one to provide information about the methodology used.

In 2002 total drug-related expenditure (2) was estimated to represent between 0.2 % and 0.4 % of gross domestic product (GDP), with 70–76 % for law enforcement, 22–28 % for treatment, 0.7–1.7 % for prevention and 0.1–0.2 % for harm reduction (Table 1).

As the methods used to estimate drug-related expenditures have changed over time, it is not possible to report on trends in drug-related public expenditure in Sweden.

In 2015 the national strategy was evaluated externally by the Swedish Agency for Public Management. This evaluation analysed to what extent government efforts contributed to fulfil the objectives of the strategy and that the funding was appropriately used.

Table 1: Total drug-related expenditure, 2002


Expenditure (thousand EUR)

% of total (a)

Law enforcement

315 000–790 000



125 000–230 000


 Social services

84 000–155 000


 Health and medical services

34 000–702 000



8 000


Harm reduction

1 000



449 000–1 029 000


% of GDP (a)

0.17–0.39 %


(a) EMCDDA calculations.
Source: Ramstedt (2006).

(1) M. Ramstedt (2006), ‘What drug policies cost: Estimating drug policy expenditures in Sweden, 2002 — work in progress’, Addiction 101, pp. 330–338.

(2) Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure on tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, the bulk of drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated by modelling approaches. The total budget is the sum of labelled and unlabelled drug-related expenditures.

Drug-related research

Content for Drug-related research: 

Funding for research comes mainly from governmental sources. The Public Health Agency of Sweden and other agencies have the task of handling project funding related to drug prevention and treatment. The main organisations involved in conducting drug-related research are university departments, although non-governmental and governmental organisations are also relevant partners. Several channels for disseminating drug-related research findings are available in Sweden, ranging from scientific journals to dedicated websites, reports, manuals and conferences. Recent drug-related research has mainly focused on aspects related to responses to the drug situation and the consequences of drug use, but studies on supply and markets are also mentioned.

See Drug-related research for more detailed information. 

Data sheet — key statistics on the drug situation

Content for Data sheet: 

        EU range      
  Year   Country data Min. Max.      
Problem opioid use (rate/1 000) :   : 0.2 10.7      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   23.1% 4% 90%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   13.5% 2% 89%      
Purity — heroin brown (%) 2014   24.7% 7% 52%      
Price per gram — heroin brown (EUR) 2014   EUR 119 EUR 23 EUR 140      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   1.0% 1% 5%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) :   : 0% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) :   : 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.8% 0% 38%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   1.5% 0% 40%      
Purity (%) 2014   43.0% 20% 64%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2014   EUR 100 EUR 47 EUR 107      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   1.0% 1% 7%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) :   : 0% 3%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) :   : 0% 1%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.4% 0% 70%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.0% 0% 75%      
Purity (%) 2014   38.0% 1% 49%      
Price per gram (EUR) 2014   EUR 28 EUR 3 EUR 63      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   2.0% 1% 4%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) :   : 0% 6%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) :   : 0% 2%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.0% 0% 2%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   0.0% 0% 2%      
Purity (mg of MDMA base per unit) 2014   87 mg 27 mg 131 mg      
Price per tablet (EUR) 2014   EUR 14 EUR 4 EUR 16      
Prevalence of drug use — schools (%) 2011   9.0% 5% 42%      
Prevalence of drug use — young adults (%) 2014   6.3% 0% 24%      
Prevalence of drug use — all adults (%) 2014   2.9% 0% 11%      
All clients entering treatment (%) 2014   12.4% 3% 63%      
New clients entering treatment (%) 2014   19.0% 7% 77%      
Potency — herbal (%) 2014   7.7% 3% 15%      
Potency — resin (%) 2014   16.8% 3% 29%      
Price per gram — herbal (EUR) 2014   EUR 14 EUR 3 EUR 23      
Price per gram — resin (EUR) 2014   EUR 12 EUR 3 EUR 22      
Prevalence of problem drug use                
Problem drug use (rate/1 000) 2007   4.9 2.7 10.0      
Injecting drug use (rate/1 000) 2008-11   1.3 0.2 9.2      
Drug-related infectious diseases/deaths                
HIV infections newly diagnosed (cases / million) 2014   0.8 0.0 50.9      
HIV prevalence (%) :   : 0% 31%      
HCV prevalence (%) :   : 15% 84%      
Drug-related deaths (rate/million) 2014   92.9 2.4 113.2      
Health and social responses                
Syringes distributed 2014   203 847 382 7 199 660      
Clients in substitution treatment 2014   3 502 178 161 388      
Treatment demand                
All clients 2014   33 837 271 100 456      
New clients 2014   12 563 28 35 007      
All clients with known primary drug 2014   33 506 271 97 068      
New clients with known primary drug 2014   12 484 28 34 088      
Drug law offences                
Number of reports of offences 2014   95 324 537 282 177      
Offences for use/possession 2014   35 282 13 398 422      

Key national figures and statistics

Content for Key national figures and statistics: 

b Break in time series.

e Estimated.

p Eurostat provisional value.

: Not available.

1 Gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of economic activity. It is defined as the value of all goods and services produced less the value of any goods or services used in their creation. The volume index of GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) is expressed in relation to the European Union (EU-27) average set to equal 100. If the index of a country is higher than 100, this country's level of GDP per head is higher than the EU average and vice versa.

2  Expenditure on social protection contains: benefits, which consist of transfers in cash or in kind to households and individuals to relieve them of the burden of a defined set of risks or needs.

3 Unemployment rates represent unemployed persons as a percentage of the labour force. Unemployed persons comprise persons aged 15 to 74 who were: (a) without work during the reference week; (b) currently available for work; (c) actively seeking work.

4 Situation of penal institutions on 1 September, 2014.

5 Share of persons aged 0+ with an equivalent disposable income below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income (after social transfers).

  Year   EU (28 countries) Source
Population  2014 9 644 864 506 944 075 bep Eurostat
Population by age classes 15–24  2014  12.6 % 11.3 % bep Eurostat
25–49  32.8 % 34.7 % bep
50–64  18.1 % 19.9 % bep
GDP per capita in PPS (Purchasing Power Standards) 1  2014 123 100 Eurostat
Total expenditure on social protection (% of GDP) 2  2013 30.0 % p : Eurostat
Unemployment rate 3  2015 8.6 % 9.6 % Eurostat
Unemployment rate of population aged under 25 years  2015 20.4 % 20.3 % Eurostat
Prison population rate (per 100 000 of national population) 4  2014 60.8  : Council of Europe, SPACE I-2014.1
At risk of poverty rate 5  2014 15.1 % 17.2 %  SILC

Contact information for our focal point

Address and contact: 

Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten)

Forskarens väg 3
S-831 40 Östersund
Tel. +46 10 205 29 08
Fax: +46 8 32 83 30

Head of national focal point: Mr Joakim Strandberg, Ph.D.

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