Opioid Abuse Among Young People Growing More Common

Opioid abuse among individuals 25 years old and younger has grown more common, according to Dr. Valgerður Rúnarsdóttir, the Medical Director of SÁÁ (the National Centre of Addiction Medicine). Valgerður addressed the audience at a conference at the Hilton Nordica hotel yesterday, Mbl.is reports.

A “New Opioid Crisis”

Speaking to Iceland Review last month, Dr. Valgerður Rúnarsdóttir, the Medical Director of SÁÁ (National Centre of Addiction Medicine) stated that talk of a “new opioid crisis” in Iceland was not an exaggeration.

Referring to the data, Valgerður noted that between 2010 and 2022, the percentage of patients being treated for opioid addiction at the Vogur detox centre and rehabilitation hospital rose by approximately 200% (from 10.3% to ca. 30% of the clinic’s patients). Furthermore, these patients are twice as likely to relapse than others, and thirty-five of those who have sought treatment over the past five years have died.

Read More: In Harm’s Way: Harm Reduction in the Age of Opioids

Yesterday, Valgerður addressed the audience at a conference held by SÁÁ and FÁR (the Association of Alcohol and Drug Advisors) at the Hilton Nordica hotel in Reykjavík between November 2 and 3. According to her lecture, prescription opioid abuse – including opioids like Contalgin, Oxycontin, and Fentanyl – among individuals 25 and younger has grown more common.

Although opioid abuse is on the rise, alcohol is still the most commonly abused intoxicant in Iceland. Speaking to Mbl.is, Valgerður noted that the problems were “of a different nature” when individuals are abusing potent prescription drugs.

Valgerður also noted that the percentage of working individuals who are admitted to the Vogur rehabilitation centre has declined to 30%. Given this, it was important that the Icelandic Vocational Rehabilitation Fund (VIRK) no longer mandates a 3-6 month sober period as a condition for entering into vocational rehabilitation.

The aforementioned conference was the first to be sponsored jointly by SÁÁ and FÁR. Valgerður told Mbl.is that many parties, including VIRK, FÁR, SÁÁ, and municipal authorities, are determined to work together to combat substance abuse in Iceland.