Parents need to play a far greater role in educating their children about the dangers of drugs, junior health minister Martin van Rijn said on Wednesday.
‘I am extremely concerned about developments in the use of drugs by youngsters and young adults who go out a lot,’ Van Rijn said in a briefing. ‘This group considers it completely normal to take drugs, but they are running serious risks. Party drugs can be life-threatening, particularly in today’s strong doses.’
‘Together we have to end this normalisation of drug taking,’ he said. ‘By this I mean national and local government, party organisers, café and club owners, schools, professionals and parents.’
Van Rijn is to discuss the issue with the mayors of the four big cities in an effort to develop a common strategy to combat the use of drugs at festivals and other events.
The health ministry is 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.
Research published by the Trimbos drugs institute earlier this year showed 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.
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, the institute said.