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Norway tops heroin overdose ranking

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A woman injecting heroin on the streets of Vancouver. Photo: Canada/Flickr
23:41 CEST+02:00
A higher proportion of people die from drug overdoses in Norway than in any other country in Europe except Estonia, according to the latest report released by the EU drugs agency.
According to the European Drug Report, released on Tuesday, 76 people in Norway died of overdoses for every million inhabitants, compared to just 17 per million in Europe as a whole. This compares to Ireland with 70 per million, Sweden with 63 per million and Finland with 58 per million. 
 
Estonia has seen the number of deaths it sees due to overdose more than double since 2008 to a staggering 191 per million, an increase the agency attributes to the sudden popularity of fentanyls, a highly potent synthetic opioid. 
 
The report, which relied on figures from 2011 and 2012, also singled out Norway as the leading country in Europe for methamphetamine use. According to the report, Norway was responsible for 40 percent of the reported seizures of the drug in 2012. 
 
Odd Hordvin, a senior adviser at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, told VG newspaper that the level of methamphetamine use in Norway was something he could not explain. 
 
"It is absolutely astonishing in several ways," he said. "I have no better explanation than to say that Norway is an amphetamine country, and has been for decades." ¨
 
According to the report, the rate at which new faces are requesting treatment for heroin addiction has fallen from a peak of 59,000 in 2007 to 31,000 in 2012.
 
However, it warns that heroin is increasingly being replaced by even more dangerous synthetic drugs. 

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Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, noted reports that cannabis and ecstasy sold on the streets had become stronger. 
 
"I am deeply concerned that the drugs consumed in Europe today may be even more damaging to users' health than in the past," she said. "Europe’s law-enforcement bodies are increasingly faced with the fact that small, easily transported packages of seemingly innocuous powders can contain many thousands of individual doses." 

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