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110 overdose deaths registered in Estonia in 2017

A used syringe found on the ground in Põhja-Tallinn.
A used syringe found on the ground in Põhja-Tallinn. Source: Greete Palmiste/ERR

A total of 110 people in Estonia died due to a drug overdose last year, it can be seen from the cause of death register of the National Institute for Health Development (NIHD).

The total number of overdose-related deaths was four less than in 2016.

By month, nine people died of a drug overdose in January, eight in February, nine in March, ten in April, 17 in May, 11 in June, six in July, 17 in August, 11 in September, four in October, three in November, and five in December.

Of these deaths, 96 were men and 14 women, with an average age of 35. The primary drug involved in lethal overdoses was fentanyl or an analogue, which was involved in 89 out of 110 cases.

The number of overdose-related emergency calls has increased as well, totaling 1,396 in Tallinn alone last year, up from 1,203 in 2016.

"110 deceased is 110 more deceased than Estonia can afford," NIHD Director Annika Veimer said. "Fortunately, Estonian society is beginning to understand that drug addiction is a disease and people who are addicted to drugs can and should be helped. Nobody starts using drugs by injecting fentanyl. But as many as 38 percent of 15-16-year-old students have tried a narcotic substance at least once in their lives."

According to Veimer, Estonia should continue offering assistance programs. "There is also clearly a need to expand harm reduction services and treatment and rehabilitation services as well as improve regional access, and the NIHD is working toward that," she added.

There are currently around 9,000 people in Estonia who inject drugs. Last year, a total of 1,473 adults and 184 minors who inject drugs received help or rehabilitation in the framework of NIHD programs. Approximately 5,500 people received counseling and the services of its harm reduction center.

In 2008, a total of 67 people died from drug overdose in Estonia; this total increased to 133 in 2009, 101 in 2010, 123 in 2011, 170 in 2012, 111 in 2013, 98 in 2014, 88 in 2015 and 114 in 2016.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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