STOCKHOLM, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Sweden has the highest proportion of drug-related deaths in the European Union, according to Swedish Television on Friday, citing the latest European Drug Report published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
According to the report, in 2018 Sweden registered 81 cases of drug-related deaths per 1 million citizens aged 15 to 64. That is nearly four times higher than the EU average of 22.3 deaths per 1 million citizens.
Mimmi Eriksson Tinghog, an analyst at the Unit of Drug Prevention at Sweden's Public Health Agency, told Swedish Television on Friday that there was no simple explanation for the high mortality rate, but she offered some theories such as a limited access to medication-assisted treatment in the past.
Such treatments constitute "one of the most effective measures against mortality, just like the drug Naloxon which is designed to reverse overdoses," Tinghog said. She also pointed out that it was difficult to compare statistics across countries due to varying methods in reporting. Also, the number of autopsies carried out varies across countries and there were varying routines around checking for and reporting the presence of different substances in deceased individuals.
Swedish authorities have brought in programs to rid the market of dangerous synthetic opioids, primarily Fentanyl-like substances, and the overdose-reversal drug Naloxon has become more readily available, as has medication-assisted treatment and needle exchanges, according to Tinghog.
Earlier this year, Sweden's Public Health Agency published a report with a list of suggested measures to address drug use in the country. Some proposals, such as the idea to introduce so-called injection rooms where people can inject drugs under the supervision of health-care personnel, have proven controversial.
The Public Health Agency has also called for a review of Sweden's drug laws, including the country's prohibition on personal use. Enditem