Inner Whisper - The record of deaths from overdoses in Europe

Paolo Marchetti

2017 - 2018

Estonia; Tallinn, Harjumaa, Estonia; Viljandimaa, Estonia

According to the WHO, Estonia has the European record for drug-induced

deaths, with 191 deaths per million inhabitants every year, more than

double that of second-placed Norway, with about 76 deaths, which in turn

is more than twice the number of drug-related deaths in Lithuania, in third


Another dramatic primacy of Estonia is the HIV infection rate, the highest

in the European Union, seven times the rate of neighboring Finland. Even hepatitis C, transmitted through the reuse of infected needles, is rampant, in fact 94% of drug addicts are positive for hepatitis C.

But how did the rampant European primate of overdose deaths arrive?

It all began in the late 1990s when difficult times came in large areas of

Russia and its former satellites after the fall of communism.

This context, delicate and unstable has been a breeding ground for new

markets, especially for drugs, a ripe area for drug dealers. In 1999,

between 15,000 and 20,000 people out of a total of 1.3 million were heroin

addicts, fed by a reliable supply from Afghanistan's poppy fields.

The following year, when the Taliban imposed a ban on the opium market,

the supply was discontinued. To fill the void, the Estonian drug traffickers

have triggered a new distribution of a synthetic drug by road, his name is


This is a synthetic opiate analgesic, it is about 100 times more powerful

than morphine and tens of times more than heroin.

In 2012, with 170 deaths, Estonia became the highest fatal overdose rate in the world.

To date there is only one hospital in Estonia that guarantees a rehabilitation program for drug addicts, and according to the director of Viljandi hospital, only a very small percentage is able to stop definitively their dependence with Fentanyl.

Speaking with Andrei, 29, one of the protagonists of this project, says that

"The drug is an internal voice, an inner whisper that digs you inside, which breaks the soul and kills you slowly, one needle at a time".

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