The number of people dying of a drugs overdose – including prescription drugs – doubled from 123 to 235 between 2014 and 2016, according to new research from drugs and addiction research institute Trimbos.
Of those, 54% were due to accidental overdoses and quarter to suicide, Trimbos said.
Sedatives and tranquilisers were responsible for 101 of the deaths, including most of the suicides. In total, 74 people died from opiate use while and cocaine was involved in 38 deaths,
Trimbos said it is not clear if the increase is actual or if better registration methods were responsible for the rise.
Nevertheless, the rise is disappointing in the light of concerted efforts made by Trimbos and other drugs experts to reduce the danger of using drugs. ‘This is definitely something we have to look into,’ spokeswoman Esther Croes told the NRC.
The clinic’s latest drugs use monitor also shows that the use of ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines has risen among adults although most people were occasional users.
In 2016, 2.9% of the over 18s had used ecstasy in the previous year, 1.7% had used cocaine and 1.4% amphetamines. Cannabis remains the Dutch drug of choice – 6.6% of the over 18s had used it at least once in the 12 months before the survey was carried out and 1% say they use it every day.
The percentage of smokers in the Dutch population has dropped from 25.7% to 24% in the two year period of the study, but 60% of people still drink more than one glass of alcohol a day, breaking official government guidelines.
One in five young adults are likely to binge drink, Trimbos said.