Other services

Part of the social assistance system in the Nordic countries consists of services that are not aimed at any part of the population e.g., help offered to substance abusers. Such services are provided both by the healthcare services and as part of the social assistance system.

Help provided in Nordic countries

In all Nordic countries several services are provided that are not specifically aimed at any target groups. These may include unspecified services provided by social authorities, crisis assistance, family counselling, women’s refuges, re-establishment centres, and shelter for the homeless together with other kinds of support to people with social problems who may need temporary accommodation.

Treatment of alcohol and drug abuse

In all Nordic countries, special institutions provide treatment for those with

alcohol- or drug-abuse problems. Some of these are privately owned institutions that have entered into agreements with the public authorities on covering their running costs. In all countries, the treatment is partly provided via the psychiatric treatment system.

Outpatient treatment is also provided. In some of the countries, efforts are made to ensure that the treatment involves the abuser’s families and social networks.


The municipal and regional administrations offer a variety of social services, such as treatment programmes for substance abusers, temporary housing for persons with a difficult life situation, crisis counselling, etc.

Faroe Islands, Finland, and Sweden

Compulsory treatment may be initiated if a substance abuser is deemed to be a dan[1]ger to him-/herself or to people in his or her environment.


Substance abusers may be compulsorily admitted to an institution for up to three months for examination and planning of treatment. Those who are pregnant may also be compulsorily admitted to an institution and kept there during the entire pregnancy if the abuse is considered likely to harm the child and other measures are deemed insufficient.


As a general remark on the knowledge of this topic, it is difficult to assess the number of substance abusers and the level of treatment provided for them, as it hard to statistically separated this group of individuals from other persons receiving somatic and psychiatric treatment.