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As a result of alcohol and drug abuse in Norway, the majority of crime occurs at night in city centers. Petty theft and violence is rare, but keep your wits about you at night time no matter where you are to avoid trouble. However, as the police are determined to control the violence and criminal behavior of drug users, the real threats are to those who are buying or selling drugs themselves. Which means, most sensible travelers should feel safe in Norway's major cities.
Here's what you need to know about issues with drugs and alcohol in Norway.
Oslo earned itself the title of "Drug Death Capital of Europe", in 2002 which reflects the problems authorities have in dealing with drugs problems, particularly in Eastern Oslo. Narcotic drugs are still illegal in Norway although there have been discussions with the authorities to decriminalise the issue. Importing drugs into Norway has severe penalties and visitors are strongly advised against doing so.
The Norwegian drug scene is also the root cause of crime in the country, as addicts look for ways of funding their habit. One of the main reasons deaths are higher in Norway than other parts of Europe is that more people inject heroin rather than smoke it. Drugs users then mix this with Rohypnol and alcohol. It is believed that the hardcore drinking seen in Norway is to blame for this combination of substances. The police have surveillance in place at Oslo Central Station and Plaza, where drug dealing is common and there are needle exchange schemes in Norway.
There are around 5,500 people living with AIDS in Norway, which is lower than other parts of Europe, and visitors should exercise caution when dealing with bodily fluids and be vigilant for poorly disposed needles.
Rape has been on the increase in part of Oslo, particularly the Grunerlokka area of the city. Rohypnol used by drug addicts is also a substance used in date rape, and visitors should never leave drinks unattended in a bar or night club, and always be very cautious of drinks bought by strangers (best to politely say no).
Norway has a number of problems with alcohol due to its reputation for hard core drinking, and has introduced legislation to try and address these issues. Visitors should be aware that drinking in a public place is illegal in Norway, and even drinking on your own balcony where you can be seen by others is technically against the law. Urinating in public is also illegal and if caught offenders will get an on the spot fine for up to 10,000 kroner. Making a nuisance of yourself while drunk is likely to end with a night in jail.
Drink driving is taken very seriously and the legal levels are well below the rest of Europe at 0.2, with severe penalties. Drivers should not drink any alcohol at all. Drinking and falling over in winter can lead to the onset of hypothermia very quickly, and this in a cold climate can be fatal. So stay safe while partying in Norway, and always have a safe option to get you back home to your accommodation after a night out.
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