Sweden has EU’s second highest rate of drugs-related deaths

Sweden has the second highest number of drugs-related deaths in relation to its population of any EU country, according to a new report.

Sweden has EU's second highest rate of drugs-related deaths
File photo of syringes: Martina Holmberg / TT

A total of 626 deaths in Sweden in 2017 can be linked to drugs, the report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) showed. Estonia was the only EU country where the proportion was higher.

That report, which looked at EU countries as well as Norway and Turkey, showed that eight northern European countries had rates of over 40 drugs-related deaths per one million inhabitants, with 92 such deaths per one million inhabitants in Sweden and 130 in Estonia.

An overall increase in drugs-related deaths was observed across all the countries.

And figures from Sweden's Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) suggested the situation was even more serious, showing that there were 959 drugs-related deaths in 2017. This is due to different practices for registering deaths in the different EU countries.

Drugs-related deaths have doubled in Sweden over the last decade, according to the Public Health Agency.

“We are watching this development with concern, the figures are far too high,” an investigator at the authority, Mimmi Eriksson Tinghög, told Svenska Dagbladet.

The EMCDDA report did not go into possible reasons for the changes on a country-by-country basis, but noted that across Europe, 78 percent of those who died of overdoses were men, the mean age of the victims was 39, and opiods were present in the majority of cases.

It comes after a majority of the political parties on the Committee on Health and Welfare said it was time to review Sweden's zero-tolerance drugs policy earlier this year.

IN DEPTH: Is Sweden's zero-tolerance approach to drugs a failing model?

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