FINLAND: New guidelines for reducing harms caused by substance abuse and addictionsApril 22, 2021
A new Substance Abuse and Addiction Strategy was published on 9 April. It outlines joint development work, objectives and priority areas until 2030. The aim is to prevent and reduce the risks, harms and problems caused by the use of alcohol, tobacco and nicotine products as well as drug use and gambling in all age groups.
The core idea of the strategy is that the harm caused by substance abuse and addictions can be prevented and treated better than at present. Succeeding in this requires that we engage in comprehensive planning and effective action in different sectors. Apart from the healthcare and social welfare sector, substance abuse and addictions are visible throughout society, and thus also in the work of other ministries and their agencies.
“Substance abuse and addiction place a great deal of strain on society and increase social inequality. I am pleased that, despite the coronavirus epidemic, a large number of actors in the sector have been able to participate in the preparation of the strategy. The same spirit of doing together is needed in implementing the strategy,” said Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru at the launch of the strategy.
First comprehensive strategy on substance abuse and addictions
The strategy is the first one in Finland to address a wide range of substance abuses and addictions. It includes a whole range of measures from prevention to targeting the entire population and reducing harms caused, to the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals’ substance abuse and addiction problems. The strategy also takes into account digital gambling, drugs taken for intoxication and other substances.
Substance abuse and addiction not only affect both users and their families but they also increase inequality in society and between people. The strategy is, therefore based on safeguarding fundamental and human rights, identifying the links between the phenomena related to substance abuse and addiction, and promoting gender equality and equality. In addition to respect for human dignity and equality, it makes economic sense to prevent harm caused by substance abuse and addictions.
Five priorities of the strategy selected in consultation with stakeholders
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is responsible for preparing the strategy. The priorities, objectives and measures to reduce harm caused by substance abuse and addiction were selected on the basis of the issues and views raised in the consultations with the various stakeholders.
The Substance Abuse and Addiction Strategy has the following five priorities:
- strengthening the rights of people suffering from substance abuse or experiencing addiction-related harm who are covered by substance abuse services, as well as the rights of those close to them;
- strengthening cooperation, information flow, expertise and knowledge base;
- intensifying alcohol, tobacco and nicotine, drug and gambling policy measures;
- ensuring the quality, accessibility and availability of both preventive work and substance abuse and addiction services;
- ensuring cooperation and expertise at the Government level to address substance abuse and addictions.
The achievements of the Strategy will be assessed using various monitoring indicators from the perspective of equality between citizens. The use of alcohol, tobacco and nicotine products and drugs, gambling and the resulting harms will be monitored by means of separate indicators.
The Strategy is part of the Government Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Government.