Poliisi on huolestunut lasten ja nuorten huumeiden käytön kasvusta
Police concerned about growing drug use among children and the young

Publication date 8.3.2021 11.17 | Published in English on 8.3.2021 at 11.38
News item

Drug offences found out by the Police have grown rapidly over the past few years. The Police is particularly concerned about children and the young with a drug habit.

Drug offences found out by the Police have grown rapidly over the past few years. The Police is particularly concerned about children and the young with a drug habit.

- The statistics show that drug use has been increasing in all age groups, but also among the children and the young. Last year, particular increase in drug use was seen among young girls, Chief Inspector Kari Siivo of the National Police Board reports.

The waste water analyses performed by the Institute for Health and Welfare THL also support the notion of growing drug abuse volumes. For example, the volumes of amphetamine use have grown dramatically from 2012, the year in which the analyses started.

According to a survey made in 2018 by THL, cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Finland. The drug survey showed that the share of those experimenting with cannabis was 24 percent among the population between 15 and 69 years of age. Among the females, the percentage was 19 while it was 28% among males. 

The experiments were markedly high in the age group of adults between 25 and 34 years; almost half of them (44%) had experimented with cannabis in some phase of their life (THL Drug situation in Finland 2020). 

Cannabis predisposes users to anxiety and depressive disorders and impairs memory

According to a study published by THL in 2014, abundant cannabis use makes the users more likely to develop anxiety and depressive disorders . Use of cannabis is particularly harmful in youth.

-  In puberty, the development of the brain towards its adult performance capacity is very rapid, and therefore the brain is also particularly exposed to disturbances, such as those caused by intoxicants. Long-term use of cannabis impairs attentiveness and memory, increasing the exposure to and risk of accidents. Abundant use of cannabis in the young years doubles the risk of psychosis, and is also connected to poorer school performance and risk of social exclusion, Chief Inspector Siivo continues.

The consumption of cannabis also easily leads to the use of other, very dangerous drugs. 

- In drug-related deaths in 2019, the use of cannabis accounted for 156 cases of the total number of 433 deaths. The number of drug-related deaths among the young (15-24 years) has increased by about 30 percent from year 2015 to 2019.  

Police focuses on intensified prevention

According to Chief Inspector Kari Siivo, the Police has increasingly focused on active prevention measures, especially among the young, and on gradual intervention steps instead of imposing fines. 

- The gradual measures include talking to those caught for the first time for drug use, including a discussion organised by the public attorney, as well as intensified treatment referrals, in line with the instructions issued by the Police Board to the Police units. 

Last year, the number of fines imposed by the Police decreased by nine percent from 2019 while the number of referrals to treatment is now manifold in comparison to earlier years. 

Record of drug use offence stays five years in Police registers

The use or experimentation with drugs by the young is often based on thoughtlessness.

-  However, the young should remember that such experiments may have consequences lasting long into the future. For example, employers recruiting new staff almost always have a drug screening made and also order a basic form safety assessment report.  The record of a drug use offence stays about five years in the Police registers, Chief Inspector Kari Siivo adds.

Instructions to parents

Do you suspect that your child has started to use drugs?

There are no clear signs. However, there are some things to pay attention to:

- Their circle of friends is completely changed.

- They lose interest in things they used to find very important. 

- Your child may use many web applications which the parents do not recognise.

- There are strange objects among their possessions, such as a bong (water pipe).

- Your child is caught for small offences, such as petty theft.

- They try to hide and cover things and become exceptionally nervous for attempts to clarify or look into their issues and things.

What if your child is caught for drug use?

- Parents often face many emotions and feelings in these situations. Before taking up the issue, please ensure to be calm and able to talk with the young in a matter-of-fact manner. Yelling is no good.

- If there is no connection and talking is impossible, for a reason or another, you should try to construct a good contact first. Remember to listen. Try to understand even if you do not condone drug use.

- In case of a problem level use of intoxicants, with any drug type,  it is typical  that the problem user does not recognise their problem and is in denial. Look for help.

- When intoxicated, your child may seem completely strange but remember that it still your child you are facing. You should show that no matter what, you love them and are concerned for them.
Where to go for help?

- Your child will need help for their drug problem, but you as a close family member will also need support and help.

 Further information for helping organisations is available online, for example, the Päihdelinkki or Irti Huumeista Ry sites.

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