EU report: Oslo lacks drug strategy

A new EU report has found that Oslo, a city that for many years has topped the heroin overdose ranking, still lacks a comprehensive strategy to combat drug use.

EU report: Oslo lacks drug strategy
A heroin user injecting on the streets of Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Photo: Canada/Flickr

Oslo has a serious drug problem, with an open and visible drug scene and among the highest number of deaths due to heroine overdose in Europe.

The new report, from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, claims that Oslo lacks a city level strategy to combat this problem and get rid of open drug abuse and drug related deaths, opting instead to focus on a few specific issues related to drug abuse.

“Everything is project-based. If you ask if anyone has a plan for reducing the sale of narcotics and that kind of goal, that doesn’t exist in Oslo or in Norway for that matter,” Arild Knutsen head of Foreningen for human narkotikapolitikk, an organisation that works with drug addicts, told Norway’s VG newspaper.

“It all comes down to a common issue – zero tolerance and a drug free society. It’s such an abstract goal, its no wonder we lack a common strategy,” he continued.

The report also reveals that Oslo has a very high number of addicts who inject rather than smoke heroine, a fact that may explain the number of drug related deaths.

The Oslo needle exchange programme gives out 1.9 million needles a year, compared to 600,000 in Madrid and 145,000 in Amsterdam.

Øystein Eriksen Søreide, Oslo’s municipal health councillor, feels that the work Oslo is doing is not reflected in the EU report.

“Oslo has a narcotics policy that the municipality introduced in 2011. It is a citywide strategy, the practical work in close to the drug users and residents, all of the districts must have a local narcotics plan. I feel that this work has not been reflected in the report,” Søreide told VG.