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Minister, parties support supervised drug room trial

Finland has seen an increase in drug overdose deaths in recent years, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén (SDP). Image: Jorma Vihtonen / Yle

The Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Aki Lindén has expressed his support for a trial of supervised drug consumption facilities in an effort to prevent overdoses.

Drug consumption rooms have become common in other parts of the world, but are not currently available in Finland.

The rooms could be introduced in one municipality at a time, like Helsinki for example, Linden told Yle.

The governing Greens, Left Alliance and Swedish People's Party (SPP) have also officially expressed their intention to back such a scheme.

Lindén said he will be submitting an official proposal to the health and social services working group this month calling for an investigation regarding the legislative processes required for the concept to be implemented.

The actual implementation of the trial will be in the next government's hands, as parliamentary elections are scheduled next spring.

"We are, however, able to begin preparations now," Lindén said.

Tweeting support from across parties

Lindén had previously expressed scepticism towards the concept, saying that the focus should be on prevention, access to treatment and increased cooperation between authorities instead.

"I belong to the generation that remembers how in the beginning of the 60s, larger quantities of drugs would arrive in Finland. I remember the very effective and powerful prevention efforts," Lindén told Yle.

At the same time, "we must never judge a person who has run into difficulties," Lindén added.

Also an advocate of the drug room trial, Finland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen (Left), thanked Minister Lindén for his support on twitter (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

"The Left Alliance supports the creation of legislation that will allow for the implementation of use rooms. The goal is to reduce drug-related deaths. We strongly support minister Linden's intention to start the investigation. It's great that things are moving forward now," she wrote.

Climate and Environment Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) also tweeted (siirryt toiseen palveluun)her party's backing of Minister Lindén's proposal.

Chair of the Swedish Parliamentary Group, Anders Adlercreutz , also told Yle that the SPP considers Lindén's proposal to be admissible, adding that the party was in favor of trialling drug consumption rooms.