Thirty-seven people have died from drug overdoses in Iceland so far this year, RÚV reports. The number has already surpassed last year’s total of 34. Many more youths are currently hospitalised for drug addiction than six years ago.
The death of young people due to drug overdoses was the topic of discussion at an open meeting held yesterday by Náum áttum, a youth addiction prevention and education group. Of the 37 individuals who have died of drug overdoses this year, ten are under 30 years old.
Last year just under 1,100 people were admitted to hospital in Iceland due to drug poisoning. Compared to 2012, the numbers have decreased in older age groups but increased among young people, including a 40% increase in those in their early twenties. While older Icelanders tend to overdose with a combination of antidepressant medication and alcohol, in cases of younger individuals opioids and illegal drugs are a more common combination.
Ólafur B. Einarsson, project manager at the Directorate of Health, says young people are not being prescribed the drugs they overdose on, “they are getting these drugs in other ways.” Patients in other Nordic countries, however, receive far fewer prescriptions for habit-forming medication, Ólafur adds. “That’s the main difference between Iceland and its neighbouring countries.”