How to counter drug addiction in Estonia?

Nowhere in Europe do so many people die as a result of drug overdoses as in Estonia. 103 people per million inhabitants died of an overdose in 2015 - five times the European average. Estonian commentators call on politicians and society to reassess the problem so as to better help the country's addicts.

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Õhtuleht (EE) /

Recognise addiction as a disease

Rita Kerdmann, the director of a rehabilitation clinic, contradicts the widespread argument that drug addicts are to blame for their situation:

“According to the International Classification of Diseases, addiction is an illness. Just like depression or fear, or even diabetes and high blood pressure. How about focusing the discussion on the fact that we are talking about a disease that needs to be treated? And then reflecting on how to do this as effectively and painlessly as possible for all those affected - the addicts, their families, the community and the public budget.”

Eesti Ekspress (EE) /

Less harshness and more care

It's clear that a drug policy based on harsher punishment won't solve the problem, Mart Kalvet of the Organisation of Drug Addicts comments in Eesti Ekspress he writes:

“Love helps far more than fear. The generations that have grown up understanding this should realise that this also applies for their fellow citizens who have problems with illegal substances. Then we could build a more healthy, free and humane future. But if most effort goes into the fight between the ministries, authorities and administration and a frightened population, there won't be any results. As an observer of drug policy I believe that it is already possible today to take steps to reconcile the citizens, the addicts and the authorities dealing with the problem.”