Minister deeply worried as report confirms fast escalation of opioid abuse among youngsters

Increased numbers are popping pills across the country, according to new survey carried out by the Sundhedsstyrelsen health authority and SSP

The high seems relaxing, the price of the pills low – and they are easy to get hold of.

This is a pretty standard description of opioids by young people participating in a remarkable report issued by the Sundhedsstyrelsen health authority and SSP consultancy.

The survey was conducted in 63 of the country’s 98 municipalities. Although this is not a large and statistically valid study, the trend seems clear: the abuse of potentially dangerous opioids is spreading among Danish youth.

In 15 municipalities across the country, an increase is seen in the number of young people abusing opioids.

According to the report, the young people don’t feel like they are doing something dangerous, “since it is medicine after all”. Young people as young as 13 compare opioids to lighter painkillers such as panodil and other over-the-counter drugs.

“It’s just pills,” said one respondent.

Easy to come by
As reported by CPH POST in February, finding or buying opioids such as tramadol, oxycodone and fentanyl is not a problem for the youth who seek them.

They have a variety of methods:

– Taking it from parents who have medical needs.

– Buying from dealers, typically found close to S-train stations.

– Buying them ‘under the counter’ from kiosks and other retailers.

– Sourcing supply via social media platforms such as snapchat, wickr, telegram etc.

– Sourcing them on the nightlife scene.

“We are aware that these drugs are traded illegally in kiosks and via social media, which requires action locally. We need to talk to young people about the dangers of the mentioned drugs and how quickly they can develop an addiction and thus have major consequences for their lives,” said Kari Grasaasen, the chief consultant at Sundhedsstyrelsen.

Deeply worrying
The report’s conclusion is deeply concerning, according to the government.

“It is deeply worrying that we are now seeing an increase in the abuse of opioids among children and young people in several of the country’s municipalities. There is a need to follow this area closely so that abuse does not run rampant,” the justice minister, Peter Hummelgaard, told TV2 Kosmopol.

“The government will look at new measures to combat the abuse of opioids among children and young people. I have asked the country’s forensic institutes to assess how dangerous a number of euphoric drugs are – including a number of opioids. That assessment must be used to decide whether the punishment for selling the drugs is adequate today.”