Finnish Society of Addiction Medicine
Alcohol is the major and growing public health problem in Finland. It has been estimated that out of a population of approximately 5 million, 10-15 % are at risk drinkers and approximately 4-5 % are alcohol dependent. In the field of drug abuse, cannabis, amphetamine and opiates (buprenorphine) are the main drugs, with approximately 15,000 IV drug users in Finland, the majority of them in capital city of Helsinki. However, drug abuse seems to be declining recently while alcohol consumption is increasing. In 2004, the total consumption of alcohol was 10.3 liters of absolute alcohol per capita.
The Finnish Society of Addiction Medicine, under the name “Society for Physicians of Substance Abuse Treatment”, was founded in January 10, 1979 by seven physicians interested in substance abuse treatment. The majority of these physicians in the substance abuse treatment field were part-time consultants as at that time, the treatment units were managed by social workers. The slowly growing interest in addiction medicine among physicians and general publicity resulted in an increase of MDs in addiction treatment services. However, the majority of them still without specialty training. In 1994, the Finnish Medical Association accepted the training program of the Society for Addiction Medicine Specialty. The Specialty is authorized by the Finnish Medical Association after an exam and two years of vocational training.
In 1995, the society was re-named and the “Finnish Society of Addiction Medicine” was established. The aim of the new name and rules was to attract allied professionals other than doctors to also join the society.
Today the society has more than two hundred members. One of the main goals of the society is training of specialists through monthly training courses and seminars. The society has formed a countrywide network of clinical training units in collaboration with University Hospitals and A-Clinics. The Finnish Medical Association has graduated more than 100 specialists of Addiction Medicine. In 1998, the Society published, in collaboration with the Duodecim Society, the first book of Addiction Medicine in Finnish, with a second edition in 2003. In 2005, the “Evidence Based Clinical Guidelines in Addiction Medicine” was published, mainly directed at doctors working in primary health care. The Society has a close partnership with government authorities, and in 2004 signed an “Agreement of Partnership” with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health joining the national program to prevent alcohol misuse problems. The future aim is to reinforce the status of Addiction Medicine in Finland. To further that goal, the Society continues offering special training courses for MDs and nurses working in substitution treatment programs; establishes closer co-operation with addiction psychiatry and other disciplines closely related to addiction research such as psychology, nursing science, sociology, etc; supports clinical research by special awards; and facilitates travel grants for regular future international contacts.
The current chairman of the society is Dr. Kalle Jokelainen, kalle.jokelainen(at)hus.fi. The WebPages of the Society can be found at: www.paly.fi