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Finland's unacknowledged problem: Alcoholism

A leading medical expert says that one million people in Finland suffer the effects of substance abuse, whether as a bystander or an addict, as many people are reluctant to interfere when someone they know has a drinking problem. Recent statistics indicate a 30 percent increase in the number of medical treatments required because of an accident or medical condition caused by alcohol.

Alkoholi ja työ kuvituskuva.
Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

Musician Jussi Kinnunen once sang about the joys of getting drunk.

But that was almost 20 years ago, before he sobered up.

Now, Kinnunen, a substance abuse therapist, helps those dealing with and recovering from substance abuse at Helsinki's private Eira Hospital, as well as the municipally-funded Kalliola Settlement.

He says the majority of his clients in the upscale neighbourhood of Eira are better off financially, psychologically, and physically than those he meets in the public sector, where addicts have often waited too long before seeking help.

Public funding cutbacks

Since 2010 it's been increasing difficult to receive longer, unmedicated therapy-based rehabilitation treatments in the public sector. 

Dr Kaarlo Simojoki, medical director of the private A-Clinic Foundation, sees the direct effects of these cutbacks.

"Recent statistics indicate a 30 percent increase in the number of medical treatments required because of an accident or medical condition caused by alcohol abuse," he says.

"The public health perspective has taken a back seat to individual rights and freedoms, and benefits for big business," says Simojoki. He says that's the wrong tactic as there are half a million risk users in Finland.

Meanwhile, therapist Jussi Kinnunen advocates getting rid of the stigma associated with admitting an alcohol problem.

"People should be proud of their survival stories of winning out over addiction," says Kinnunen.

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Putin-Niinistö meeting venues hold special place in Finnish-Russian history

Hotelli Punkaharju on alunperin rakennuttanut tsaari Nikolai I vuonna 1843.

The venues for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö's meeting on Thursday came as no surprise to people who are familiar Finland's multifaceted history. The Punkaharju Hotel has long been considered a jewel among the sandy ridges of eastern Finland, developed from a hunting lodge at the behest of tsar Alexander I in 1878, when Finland was still a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire.

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