Swedish drug deaths have
increased four-fold in the last nine years, the Swedish public television
network Sveriges Television(SVT) reported on Wednesday. Citing coroners'
figures, SVT put the number of drug overdose deaths at 99 in 1995, compared
with 425 in 2002 and 413 last year. The city of Gothenburg was especially
hard hit, with drug deaths jumping from one in 1995 to 53 last year.
"This is alarming and probably
reflects a big increase of both heroin and mixed drug abuse, especially
amongst younger persons, Peter Kranz of the Forensic Medicine Institute
told the newspaper Upsala Nya Tidning.
The increase comes despite
Sweden's well-deserved reputation as among the hardest of the hard-line
when it comes to drug policy. Sweden remains committed to the utopian
vision of a drug-free society, a policy most recently reiterated by a 2001
Expert Commission. "Sweden's restrictive policy on drugs must be
sustained and reinforced," the commission concluded. "No arguments
or facts suggest that lowering a society's guard against drug abuse and
drug trafficking do anything to improve matters for individual users or
society as a whole."
Hard drug users, of whom
there are an estimated 30,000, might argue that not dying of drug overdose
does improve matters for individual users. Per Sternbeck of the National
Organization for Helping Drug Addicts told SVT deaths are up because the
government has turned its back on users. "The reason is because addicts
are refused care which is based on real needs and instead given care based
on abstract ideas," he said. Many treatment centers are closed because
local authorities will not pay for care, he added. "We ask, do you
need to die just because you use drugs?"
But Swedish drug enforcement
coordinator Bjorn Fries drew a different lesson from the numbers.
"The developments show that efforts must be redoubled on a broad front,"
he said. Still, even Fries conceded that enforcement alone won't
solve the problem. "The number of heavy drug abusers has increased
and we must improve care for these people," he told SVT.
-- END --
Issue #324, 2/13/04
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DRCNet Interview: Chuck Thomas and Troy Dayton, Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative |
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Newsbrief: Legalization Talk in Trinidad |
Newsbrief: Brit Police Chief Says Legalize Heroin, Irks Other Cops |
Newsbrief: Australian Federal Government Issues Threat to Stop New Safe Injection Sites |
Newsbrief: Prohibitionist Sweden Sees Drug Deaths Climb |
Newsbrief: Philadelphia Drug War Reality Tour Hits the Airwaves, Internet |
Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story |
Newsbrief: US Senate to Consider Lifting Buprenorphine Restrictions |
Ohio Patients Network Art Contest |
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Offer and Appeal: New StoptheDrugWar.org Ink Stamps and Strobe Lights -- DRCNet Needs Your Support in 2004 |
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