At the time of the Winter War Finland had the highest per-capita drug use of anywhere in the world by a long fucking way. Everyone was on coke, heroin and speed
A Finnish ski patrol in the terrain of Kantalahti in Finnish Lapland is on the third day of its mission behind enemy lines when the group is ambushed by Soviet forces at the foot of Kaitatunturi fell. During an intense firefight, the men manage to slip past the enemy who are trying to encircle them.
What ensues is a wild pursuit on skis. Aimo Koivunen, who opens the track in the virgin snow, feels his energy slipping away. The Russians are gaining on them until Koivunen remembers that he has the group's entire supply of Pervitin in his breast pocket. Before that he has taken a suspicious view of the strong stimulant that was given out to commando forces operating behind enemy lines, but now the situation is serious.
The men have to ski fast and it is not easy to dig out just one pill, so he dumps the whole supply - 30 pills - into his mitten. Soon Koivunen's skiing gets a new boost, and the whole patrol moves forward at a much faster pace.
This lasts for just a short time. Soon Koivunen notices distortions in his field of vision, and his consciousness begins to fade. The overdose of methamphetamine contained in the pills puts Koivunen into a state of delirium lasting several days, with alternating phases of wakefulness, sleep, and hallucinations.
His next recollection is from the next morning. He is 100 kilometres away. He has lost his patrol, and has no more ammunition, or food. Now he faces a real ordeal just to survive.
During the days that follow, Koivunen successfully flees Russian partisan forces, is injured by a land mine, and lies for a week in a pit in the snow waiting for help to arrive. He skis for more than 400 kilometres in temperatures of -20° C. During two weeks the only food he has are pine buds and a Siberian jay that he catches and eats raw.
When he is finally rescued and taken to a hospital his pulse rate is nearly 200 beats per minute and his weight has dropped to 43 kilos. Aimo Koivunen's adventure story is part of the history of Finland's wartime commando forces. But it is historical in another sense as well: Koivunen became one of the first Finns to overdose on speed.