WP2 Building the knowledge base on drug-induced deaths and non-fatal overdoses

Illicit drug use is one of the drivers in a multifaceted process that may eventually lead to social exclusion, serious health problems or, in the worst case, premature death of a young person. WP2 focuses on examining this risk behavior and factors associated with it.

Although risk factors for drug overdose are quite well known, they are mostly based on general or high-risk adult populations. Less is known specifically about young people, and it is important to bridge this knowledge gap. By studying the pathways of young peopleʼs life courses, WP2 aims to reveal the underlying processes and mechanisms leading to these unfortunate outcomes. This will include the exploration of situational and environmental factors that affect drug-induced deaths or non-fatal overdoses.

There are barriers in drug treatment availability and access for young people. For example, substitution treatment, which has proven to be an efficient way of preventing drug-induced deaths, is not available for minors in Finland. WP2 explores what kinds of services young people, who have used illicit drugs, have used, and how the services should be developed to better recognize and respond to their needs.

WP2 also examines whether changes in the general social and cultural environment, such as globalization and digitalization, can be linked to increased drug use and polarization, contributing to drug-induced deaths. As illicit drug use may often be intertwined with violence, as well as suicidal behavior, WP2 works in close collaboration with WPs 3–4 to examine the common factors behind violent, suicidal, and drug-induced deaths.

Constant collaboration and dialogue with project stakeholders is utilized throughout the research process, as well as in finding solutions to prevent drug-induced deaths.

Karoliina Karjalainen

Adjunct Professor, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare +358 29 524 7933