Dutch youngsters are taking drugs like ecstasy more often when they go out and the drugs themselves are becoming stronger, according to new research by the Trimbos institute.
The institute says 60% of youngsters aged 16 to 24 who regularly go clubbing and to festivals now take ecstasy. In addition, speed, cannabis, GHB and cocaine are becoming increasingly popular, news agency ANP says.
Youngsters say they take drugs to escape social pressures and to avoid becoming adults and making life choices, the Trimbos research found. They also claim the threshold to taking drugs has been lowered by social media and the internet.
The institute says that drug-related deaths remain low, despite the rise in usage. However, the impact on both the individual and society as a whole should not be under-estimated, news agency ANP quotes the institute as saying.
Junior health minister Martin van Rijn said in a statement he is concerned that taking drugs is now regarded as normal. ‘Taking a pill at a festival or party is not normal,’ he said. ‘The safe use of drugs is a myth… many users do not realise this.’
Van Rijn asked the institute to research current drugs usage last year to assess if officials need to change their approach.
The health ministry is now drawing up national guidelines on drugs education for local authorities and parents. It also wants colleges and universities to do more to prevent drugs usage.
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