Drug overdose deaths rise in Netherlands; Third linked to opiates

Pyschoactive_Drugs, author unknown, Wikimedia commons

Between 2014 and 2016 the number of recorded deaths caused by a drug overdose nearly doubled, according to the National Drug Monitor by the Trimbos Institute and research and documentation center WODC, NOS reports reports.

In 2014 a total of 123 people died of a drug overdose in the Netherlands. In 2016 there were 235 registered overdose deaths. The researchers add that the increase may be partly attributable to improved registration. Just over half of 2016's overdose deaths were accidental. The rest involved suicide, or an overdose as the result of psychiatric or behavioral problems, according to the researchers. 

A third of the people that died due to an overdose in 2016, died from overdosing on opiates like heroin. One in six died from overdosing on cocaine. The other deaths involved a combination of drugs, or the exact cause of death was unclear. 

The researchers found that the use of ecstasy, amphetamine and cocaine increased slightly between 2014 and 2016. Cannabis is still the most commonly used drug, though cannabis use did not increase in this period. Over 1 percent of Dutch adults smoke cannabis daily, and 6.6 percent have used the drug at least once.

The number of dismantled storage sites for synthetic drugs also increased, from 61 in 2014 to 84 in 2016.