Drug-related emergencies in Italy are monitored and reported in the context of the national early warning system on new psychoactive substances (NPS). In 2015, a total of 1 075 people required emergency treatment because of non-fatal intoxication that was possibly a result of the use of NPS. Toxicological analysis was performed in about 15 % of these cases, and the results indicated the presence of NPS in about two thirds of them, while an established illicit drug was detected in the remaining cases.
The Hospital Discharge Record, collected by the Ministry of Health and managed by the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), provides additional data on all episodes of hospitalisation that have occurred in Italy. In 2016, there were 6 575 hospitalisations directly related to drugs (first diagnosis), corresponding to a rate of hospitalisation of 10.8 per 100 000 inhabitants. Almost two thirds of those admitted were male.
In cases in which the substance related to hospitalisation was reported (in 43 % of cases), the most frequent diagnosis was opioid use, followed by cocaine and, to a lesser extent, cannabis. Between 2015 and 2016, there was a small reduction in the number of hospitalisations related to opioids and a large increase in the number of hospitalisations related to cocaine.