In 2017, the general mortality register reported a further increase in the annual number of drug-induced deaths in the Netherlands. The majority of victims were male. The reasons behind the rise in the number of registered drug-induced deaths remain unclear, although the ageing of drug users, changes in drug use and the emergence of medicinal opioids including oxycodone use could play a role.
Although post-mortem toxicology is not performed in all cases of unexplained death in the country, there are indications that more drug-induced deaths are now detected because of increasing use of ‘less invasive toxicological analyses’. There are also indications that more drug-induced deaths are now registered because of the development of facilities for the electronic registration of such deaths. The drug-induced mortality rate among adults (aged 15-64 years) was 22 deaths per million in 2017, in line with the most recent European average of 22 deaths per million.