Aims: This study reports on the relative gravity people attribute to various addictive behaviors with respect to other societal concerns in four northern populations with different history, social policy and treatment alternatives for addicted individuals. Methods: Random population surveys were conducted in Canada, Sweden, Finland and St. Petersburg, Russia. In Finland and Sweden, the survey was conducted by mail, in Canada and St. Petersburg by phone. As a part of this survey, the respondents were asked to assess the gravity of various societal problems, some of which involved various addictive behaviors. The data were analyzed by descriptive statistical methods, factor analysis, contextual analysis and multiple regression analysis. Results: Hard drugs, criminality and environmental issues belonged to the topmost problems in all data samples. Overall, Finns and Canadians appeared the least worried about various societal problems, Swedes seemed the most worried and St. Petersburgian views were the most polarized. Two factors were extracted from the combined data. Factor 1 covered criminal behavior and various addictions; it was named Threats to Safety factor. Factor 2 comprised social equality issues. The country context explained 12.5% of the variance of the safety factor and 7.9% of the equality factor. Conclusions: Despite some cultural variation in the gravity assessments, the central core of the social representation of addictive behaviors tends still to be linked with ‘badness’ since they were mainly grouped with various forms of criminal behavior in all these countries.