Number of drugs deaths declined steeply

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PHOTO: P M

The first half-year of 2018 saw a threefold reduction of fatalities caused by narcotics compared with the same period in 2017. The police believe that the reason is the disappearance of several strong narcotics from the market.

While the number of fatalities caused by narcotics in Estonia has steeply fallen after many years, a 13-year-old schoolgirl dies in Tallinn due to an overdose of fentanyl. The police suspect the girl’s 15-year-old boyfriend of having caused her death.

Maria (name changed) was a proper schoolgirl. In early June, when most pupils were busy making plans for their summer vacation, Maria was found unconscious and hospitalized. She showed symptoms of overdose of fentanyl. She died the next day without recovering consciousness.

Investigators of the North Prefecture drugs enforcement unit, who have probably seen everything related to drugs abuse, describe the girl’s death as a highly unusual event. Maria was not an addict.

The fatal use of fentanyl may have been her first contact with drugs. The girl received the substance from her 15-year-old boyfriend, who is a suspect of having caused death through negligence. The youngster, whose arrest was not considered necessary by the prosecutor’s office, has had some previous contacts with the juvenile police, but nothing serious. Nor he will have to spend his life with the knowledge that he caused the death of his girlfriend.

Urmet Tambre, head of the North Prefecture criminal police bureau, said that this year has seen some other extreme cases of children having narcotics overdose. But none of them had a fatal ending.

Tambre cited a case when teenagers – boys and girls of 11-14 – had found a syringe. Instead of throwing it away they filled it with water and injected one of their companions. Since the syringe had contained a strong narcotic substance, the child received narcotic poisoning and infection caused by the unsterilized syringe. The affair ended with hospitalization for several days; the victim fortunately avoided HIV infection.

«Another example – the uncle left a bottle on the table containing the drug GHB. An eight-year-old drank it, spat it out at once, but nevertheless received overdose,» Tambre said.

The threefold decline of drugs-related fatalities in the first half-year has a concrete and simple reason, Tambre says. «Last year was one of the worst overall – five types of synthetic drugs flooded the market and addicts simply did not know what the safe dose would be.»

The drugs enforcement police also managed to take down several gangs distributing these substances. This may have also cased confusion in the local narcotics market. The situation has stabilized by now: the market is dominated since winter by cyclopropyl fentanyl, which is already familiar to users, who know the correct dose.

This has resulted in the decline of drugs-related deaths: there was only once case in June. And that was not a habitual drugs user but an inexperienced girl – the same one, whose boyfriend will now face court.

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