Drugs Petri Engblom lived for decades in a life-threatening drug and crime spiral – Now a man who has gone through more than 20 periods of detoxification tells what helped him sober up

In the spring, the Executive Director of Irti Huumeista ry raised the possibility of voluntary involuntary treatment. Petri Engblom also believes that voluntary involuntary treatment could be a good way for a drug addict to get over the worst withdrawal symptoms.

Now is bound to receive a daily dose, otherwise it cannot be.

Not a moment.

Bridge Petri Engblomista felt in detoxification time and time again.

“The withdrawal symptoms from opiates and sedatives were pretty awful. I was all on ice, diarrhea and I had a panic-like tense feeling. In addition, I suffer from amphetamine withdrawal symptoms, the worst of which was mental lifelessness, ”Engblom says.

Engblom has been in detoxification about twenty times. For many treatments, he really wanted to get rid of drugs.

“Pretty often I left in the middle because of withdrawal symptoms or at least really sore. Withdrawal symptoms did not have time to resolve with a couple of weeks of treatment. Drug cravings dominated every moment, so I always quickly went back to the old patterns, ”Engblom says.

In addition to detoxification treatments, Engblom has been in substitution treatment, as a client of various open rehabilitation services and in drug rehabilitation in prison.

In the end, it was only a period of several years of institutional rehabilitation that helped Engblom truly break free from drugs. In long-term rehabilitation, there was time to get rid of severe withdrawal symptoms and build a foundation for sober living in peace.

In institutional care, the cessation of drug use was also encouraged by the presence of other sober people around. According to Engblom, peer support is critical in the treatment of severe drug addiction.

“It has a big impact when you see that guys who have been prickly in the same bush in the past have gotten their lives in shape. Then he thinks that if they succeeded, why not me too. ”

Now Engblom is doing peer support work in Vantaa’s A-guild. He has been sober for four and a half years.

The path to this point has been winding – and many potholes in the path are life threatening.

“Pretty often I left in the middle because of withdrawal symptoms or at least really sore. Withdrawal symptoms did not go away with a couple of weeks of treatment. “

Finland According to the Substance Abuse Treatment Act, all victims of drug addiction must be offered treatment or rehabilitation.

HS has reported in recent weeks that drug use and drug-related deaths, especially among young people, have increased alarmingly in Finland. Finland is now looking for ways to improve the drug treatment system so that deaths and other drug-related suffering can be prevented.

Read more: People are dying of drugs in Finland more and more often and at a younger age, now THL’s expert group is looking for ways to stop development

THL has defined the development targets for drug treatment as, for example, speeding up and facilitating access to treatment, ensuring continuity of treatment, and developing health counseling for drug users.

Also the Executive Director of Irti Huumeista ry Mirka Vainikan considers that the drug treatment system needs to be updated in the above areas.

“Detoxification treatment should be available on a one-stop-shop basis. In addition, the possibilities for long institutional care periods should be increased, because in severe substance abuse, it is often not possible to break the cycle in weeks or even months, ”says Vainikka.

In addition, a reasonable care guarantee period should be provided at the state level, Vainikka suggests.

Now, access to addiction treatment usually takes several weeks.

First, a drug user who wishes to receive treatment must receive a referral for detoxification treatment from a substance abuse clinic, for example. He then waits for a call from the vacated treatment center.

However, chronic drug use in particular and life management or mental health problems often associated with addictive illness make it difficult to commit to waiting for weeks.

For example, homeless drug users may also not have a permanent telephone number from which they can be reached with certainty when the treatment center becomes vacant.

Vainika believes that a drug addict has to work too hard to get help for his or her life-threatening illness.

“Drug addiction must be treated with the same degree of severity as other life-threatening diseases that require treatment,” Vainikka says.

Petri Engblom hopes that even more peer support will be offered to drug users. According to him, many are left too alone during detoxification, for example.

“No from the worst end but with all the spices. ”

Thus, Petri Engblom from Helsinki describes his own struggle with drug addiction.

Now in his forties, Engblom first sought drug treatment at the age of 19 at the turn of the millennium. Behind it was a ragged childhood in the grips of the 1990s recession, school bullying and fake groups of friends.

Engblom had started using alcohol at the age of 12 and soon cannabis was found alongside alcohol. Intravenous drugs such as amphetamines and heroin became part of Engblom’s daily life at the age of 17.

“My youth was a deepening distress, and my life in my twenties slipped more and more into the world of drugs and crime. My drug use crowned, and I committed more and more crimes to fund drugs. Every day was just a survival. ”

Detoxification was an unfortunate good place for Engblom to network. The phone usually had wholesale new numbers after the treatment period.

“I met new guys from the world of drugs and crime there. There were occasional help periods for me, but they didn’t control my serious addiction. ”

Engblom’s life revolved almost entirely around the acquisition and use of drugs. He lived homeless for long periods of time and stayed somewhere at some point. Sometimes in the corners of friends, sometimes at Grandma’s.

“The worst part is waking up sore from the pipe and realizing that the police have taken the substances. It happened dozens or maybe even hundreds of times. ”

Usually, Engblom’s days began with a dose of the drug saved from the previous day in the morning. And after that I had to get money for the next dose.

“I usually stole from stores. I wandered around looking for fillets, tentacles, or anything I could sell on. Sometimes we also stole goods or fillers from the construction sites from the street. The most important thing was that you got fifty or a hundred from something that could buy a gram of amphetamine or even half a Subutex button. That would survive the next day. ”

Detoxification treatment was unfortunately a good place for Petri Engblom to network. The phone usually had wholesale new numbers after the treatment period.

At the age of 25, Engblom, who slipped into a bad spiral, was imprisoned for a few years. There, getting drugs was more cumbersome and more expensive.

In prison treatment, Engblom managed to sober up for the first time.

“In prison, I was motivated to stay clear of more difficult moments, for example, by not being able to go on holiday if I had used drugs. Being in prison was a kind of involuntary treatment. ”

After liberation, a drug-free life slowly began to find its bed and be good.

There was a job, an apartment and a girlfriend.

“At the time, however, I still didn’t understand the importance of sobriety, and I started experimenting with cloud burning and alcohol. Soon I was on the street again and then in prison again. ”

Drug addiction care in Finland is based almost exclusively on the client’s own will. In recent years, however, the possibility of voluntary involuntary treatment has also been highlighted in the public debate.

Mirka Vainikka has stated in the HS opinion paper that voluntary involuntary treatment could reduce the number of interruptions in detoxification treatment and increase the effectiveness of treatment.

Read more: Voluntary involuntary treatment as part of a range of drug treatment options

In practice, voluntary involuntary treatment would mean that, when entering detoxification or institutional care, a person could, if they so wished, sign consent to involuntary treatment at a stage when the symptoms of withdrawal have not yet begun.

It could then be ensured that he cannot stop treatment in the middle when withdrawal symptoms push on and feel unbearable.

The possibility of voluntary involuntary treatment is currently available, for example, in Norway for pregnant women addicted to drugs.

It is part of the drug addiction disease that one’s own belief in recovery is shaken.

In Finland, involuntary treatment, ie compulsory treatment, can in some cases be provided on the basis of the Child Protection Act, the Substance Abuse Act or the Mental Health Act.

Under the Substance Abuse Treatment Act, a person can be prescribed treatment either on the basis of the health hazard they cause or their violence. However, due to the complexity of the decision-making process, few forced treatment decisions under the Substance Abuse Act are made.

Vainika believes that voluntary involuntary treatment would be a good new tool alongside other means.

He recalls that drug addiction involves faltering one’s own faith in recovery. Voluntary involuntary treatment could get over the worst moments.

“Recovery from drug addiction involves strong physical, mental and social withdrawal symptoms. It takes a tremendous amount of energy for a person to consider whether they can stay in treatment or start relieving mental and physical pain with drugs.”

Engblom also sees voluntary involuntary treatment as an idea worth trying.

“It would have been good for me if someone had forced me to take care of me. The substances I used became so long and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that it was difficult to tolerate them with my own willpower alone. ”

Petri Engblom works as a director at the Vantaa A-guild.

Engblom says that in addition to longer institutional care, understanding the importance of sobriety has been central to her recovery.

Replacement therapy was also an important milestone for him. It helped get rid of the crime spiral.

“Thanks to the cessation of crime, there was enough energy to treat and change the world of thought. It is not easy to change the world of values ​​to healthy after living in the world of drugs and crime for decades. ”

Today, Engblom’s life is very different than in years of use. She studied with an apprenticeship as a substance abuse and mental health nurse and works as a mentor in her field at the Vantaa A-guild.

“A good life consists of work, friends and hobbies. Today, I go to work in the morning, and in the evenings I often go to peer support groups. My circle of friends is largely made up of sobered-up former users. We support each other to be clear and together we have all the fun, like eating and training in the gym. ”

Finally, Engblom would like to emphasize that there are also successes in the treatment of drug addiction, and it is important to talk about them as well.

He thinks that the functioning of the system and the adequacy of resources should be critically examined and improved, but there is also reason to thank.

Hundreds of professionals do a tremendous amount of good work every day to help – some in employment, some in volunteering.

Even now, someone who has long struggled with addiction is slowly getting their lives in order.

“I have learned that there is always hope. There are no hopeless cases, ”Engblom says.

Making the criminal world of values ​​healthy has not been easy for Engblom, but after several years of institutional rehabilitation, it was time to rebuild one’s own identity.



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