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 advised against doing so.
The Norwegian drugs 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 4000 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 be very aware of having drinks bought for them by strangers.
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. 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 oneself through being 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 and so 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.
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