26 August 2010
The study deals with the practical and discursive changes that have taken place in the Finnish drug policy from the mid-90s onwards. Until that time, both the use of drugs and related problems remained relatively marginal in Finland, compared to most Western European counties. Then the situation began to change: experimenting with and use of illicit drugs became more common. Furthermore, several statistics also indicated that intravenous drug use and related harms, as well as demand for treatment and drug-related crime, were increasing somewhat rapidly. As a consequence, drugs were suddenly debated in public on a daily basis, authorities set up working groups, professionals demanded more resources, action plans were made, and so forth: political mobilisation process took place.
In analysing this process - in the framework of social construction of social problems - the focus is on the breakthrough of so called harm reduction policy; harm reduction measures was the politically hot potato like they have been in many other countries too. In Finland, the debate on harm reduction was centered around two new initiatives: launching of needle exchange programmes to all major cities in Finland and rapid expansion substitution treatment for opiate addicts. The study follows a case logic:
analysis is focused on the episodes of struggle from different arenas where drug policy was reformed or contested (see my web site for more information on the case studies).
More generally, the study is about the question how drug policies change when they change. In addition to the Finnish case, comparative attention is being paid attention to explanations how different local, national and international drug policies have been formed as what they are; how have these formation processes been analysed, typified and explained in the research literature on drug policies.