Unaccompanied minors are skipping other drugs and going directly to heroin. Photo: Helena Landstedt/TT
“They aren’t taking the classic Swedish path of drug abuse where you start by smoking cannabis and then gradually move on through to the heavier drugs,” Dr Mathias Sjöberg, head doctor at Maria Ungdom, told Sweden’s TT newswire. “Instead they seem to jump all the steps and start at once with severe drug abuse, most often with brown rock heroin.”
Sjöberg claimed that the centre began treating more and more young child refugees, most of them from Afghanistan, in the second half of 2015, with the number checking into the centre rising throughout 2016.
According to Christoffer Bohman, head of the police in Järva in northern Stockholm, an open trade in heroin has begun to be established in the suburb of Rinkeby.
“After the summer of 2016, we began to see indications that a heroin market had started to be established there,” he said. “The reports came from the residents, the municipality and from those monitoring the underground.”
He said that nine out of the ten cases where heroin use is suspected involved unaccompanied child migrants.
“What we can say is that we have a new trend that people are buying and selling heroin, particularly in Rinkeby, and that the buyers are unaccompanied child migrants.”
Afghanistan has in recent years been fighting an epidemic of heroin use after a string of bumper opium harvests.
The United Nations estimated in 2015 that there were as many as 1.6 million drug users in Afghan cities, about 5.2 percent of the population, nearly double the 940,000 estimated in 2009.