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Are Finns a self-destructive lot?

September 6, 2006
I worry a bit about the state of Finnish society, but I suppose I am a sucker for the hype in the news and how the media always pumps up the negative things that are happening in Finnish society. The one worrying trend that cannot be ignored however is the increase in the use of alcohol by all segments of society. Even women are drinking far more than they did just a few years ago. I may have iterated in earlier entries that the drinking culture in Finland is something I will never get used to…
That aside, the media has highlighted several worrying trends:
  • YLE TV news reported an increase in the number of Finnish women who continue to use alcohol and drugs when they are pregnant, this has resulted in numerous infants who are born with medical problems and who will need special care as they grow up
  • a noticeable increase in the number of new HIV infections in Finland, the medical community attributes this to risky sexual behaviours (i.e. not using a condom), rather than IV drug use (
  • more Finns are using and abusing prescription drugs, it appears to be relatively easy to get medication from several doctors because medical records are not shared between offices and medical professionals (
  • more Finnish kids have been taken into protective custody because of poor home situations, these days it appears to be related partly to the decrease in alcohol taxes and hence increase in alcohol consumption (
  • former Nokia CEO, Jorma Olilla in a recent interview lamented on the pathetic state of young Finnish men, who drink too much alcohol and do less sport than before; Mr. Olilla believes this will have a noticeable effect on the state of the Finnish economy in the future
  • a report released by UNICEF (and financed by The Body Shop) claimed that thousands of Finnish children have experienced domestic violence (whether as a witness or a victim)(, a worrying trend for the future, where young people will think that violence is "normal"
  • I am getting really angry about the number of reports I read about the police pulling over "extremely" drunk drivers (and their numbers are on the increase!). Don’t just take away their licences for crying out loud – put these idiots in JAIL! In Finland you can be charged if your blood alcohol volume is over 0.5… Many of the extremely drunk drivers being pulled over have registered blood alcohol volumes of 1.6 and higher… Some of these people should be passed out, but they somehow find the will to put themselves behind the wheel of a car and drive…
A serious attitude change is required to make Finnish society better understand how seriously wrong some of these things are… It worked in Canada, where in the 1980’s a massive campaign was launched to highlight the dangers (and stupidities) of drunk driving. The Canadian alliance Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has become a powerful lobbying group that in one generation has managed to persuade society that drinking and driving is a social taboo and that it is wrong to let anyone who has been drinking to drive a car.
One Comment leave one →
  1. Diana permalink
    September 14, 2006 12:19 pm

    When I visited Helsinki, I was really shocked at how much drinking was happening.  I’ve met other Finns here in Canada who don’t drink and are disturbed that this is only what the rest of the world knows of Finland and tend to believe then that all Finns have drinking problems.  I like the Swedish policy of zero tolerance for drinking/driving – then there’s no question as to what a person should or shouldn’t do!

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