Drug Use Soars in Denmark

The Danish Government launches a new drug strategy in response to a dramatic increasing number of drug addicts and drug related overdoses.

There are an estimated 33.000 drug addicts (problem drug users) in a country with a population of 5 million. The government plans to introduce more involuntary treatment to stop this disturbing trend.

In the last 4 years, the number of drug addicts has increased with 15%; 5000 new users. In 2005, the number of registered addicts was 28.000. In 2009 the number of addicts registered in Denmark had soared to 33.000. The number of addict deaths has increased by 13% in one year alone, going from 239 in 2008 to 276 in 2009.

Involuntary treatment

The Danish Government now wants to use more involuntary treatment.

- I have met too many unhappy parents of the young addicts who do not want treatment. We may use involuntary treatment in the future, but only if it serves a good purpose, says the Social Minister Benedikte KiƦr, who has the support of the Health Minister Bertel Haarder.

Denmark already has legislation permitting involuntary treatment if the patient is pregnant, but in reality this rarely happens. Scientific evidence shows that treatment that commence by means of coercion may be as effective as voluntary treatment.

New Drug Strategy

The government has now launched a 19 point policy for supply-reduction, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation which includes more outreach programs, treatment programs in prison and focus on mental health issues.

The issue of injection rooms has been raised, but Minister of Justice, Lars Barfoed, is adamant that this would be a mistake.

- That would be in conflict with our overall policy. It is immoral to aid the injection of drugs, says Barfoed.

Heroin Assisted Treatment

The Danish Parlament decided in 2008 to allow heroin assisted treatment. A trail project has been in existence in Copenhagen since March 2010. It is too early to make any conclusions, but this new government initiative suggests that authorities in Denmark believe that other measures must be taken in order to effectively address the disturbing increase in problem drug use.