Dutch emergency rooms see sharp increase in GHB overdoses: report

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GHB (Photo: college.healthguru.com). (GHB (Photo: college.healthguru.com))

The number of people who end up in the emergency room after taking too much GHB increased explosively over the past years, doctors at the emergency rooms of hospitals in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Nijmegen and Haarlem, and the Dutch association for emergency medical services NVSHA said to NRC. 

The OLVG hospital in Amsterdam saw the number of GHB overdose admissions increase from 50 in 2014 to 133 last year. The Diakonessenhuis in Utrecht had 120 admissions last year and Radboudumc in Nijmegen had 100, considerably higher than in previous years. The number of GHB overdoses in Rotterdam rose slightly, doctors at the Franciscus Gasthuis in Rotterdam said to NRC. The patients who end up in the emergency room are often in a comatose condition, and sometimes need help breathing, according to the newspaper.

Most GHB users are between 20 and 30 years old, and the majority use the drug recreationally. The doctors told NRC that users often underestimate the effect of GHB, because the drug is difficult to dose. "One milliliter too much and you have an overdose", Femke Gresnigt of the OLVG said. The drug is also cheap, readily available and relatively easy to make at home, according ot the doctors. 

According to the Trimbos Institute, the level of GHB poisoning is substantially higher than with other drugs. GHB is also extremely addictive and even a single use can have serious consequences. 

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