The Swedish addiction epidemic in global perspective – ABSTRACT

The Swedish epidemic of intravenous amphetamine injection, which started in 1945, was surveyed annually in Stockholm from 1965 to 1987. During that period, approximately 250.000 arrestees were examined for needle marks from intravenous drug injections that they presented in their cubital regions. The progression or regression of the epidemic was gauged by calculating the percentage of addicts (marked with needle scars) among the population arrested for any kind of criminal or civil offense. This epidemiological study using an objective marker demonstrated that a permissive drug policy leads to a rapid spread of drug use. A restrictive policy not only checks the spread of addiction but brings about a considerable reduction in the rate of current consumption. The restrictive policy is based on a general consensus of social refusal of illicit drug use, and strict law enforcement. All countries which have adopted this model such as China, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have succeeded in controlling epidemics of amphetamine or heroin addiction. By contrast, Western industrialized nations which have accepted permissive policies have seen their epidemics of drug addiction grow steadily since World II War and erode their democratic institutions. The author concludes that such a trend may only be reversed by adopting a restrictive model validated by epidemiological and historical facts.

Professor Nils Bejerot
The Swedish Carnegie Institute, Stockholm
Presented at an International Colloquium held in Paris at the French Senate in March 1998

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