Finland: Sharp increase in drug experimentation from one generation to another – nearly half experiment with drugs

The percentage of people who have tried illegal drugs has grown sharply in Finland from one generation to the next. While eight percent of Finns born in the 1950s report having tried cannabis at some time in their lives, the figure was 14 percent for those born in the 1960s, 26 percent for those born in the 1970s, and 42 percent for those born in the 1980s. The growth rate has accelerated.

The findings are based on an analysis of material from a drug survey conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in 2018, whose results have been published in the latest issue of the journal Yhteiskuntapolitiikka.

The youngest of those born in the 1990s, were 19-28 years old – an active age of experimentation – when the survey was conducted. It is likely that the percentage of those experimenting with cannabis will continue to rise, possibly going well over 40 percent. Those born in the 2000s are only now reaching the age of experimentation, but the direction of experimentation is already rising sharply.

Similarly, for those born in the 1980s (Generation Y) and in the 1990s (Generation Z) the use of ecstasy, cocaine, LSD, and mushrooms is significantly more common than with other age groups. Typical for Generations Y and Z is that they have experienced significantly more substances than those of older generations had.

“We have grown accustomed to thinking of trends of drug use as trends that ebb and flow like waves. But if we look at drug use among the various generations, drug experimentation has increased incrementally from one generation to the next, and the trend is constantly upward”, says research professor Pekka Hakkarainen at THL.

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