Netherlands Country Drug Report 2019

Drug-related emergencies

Although national data on absolute numbers of emergencies are not available, the Monitor Drug-related Emergencies (MDI) has been collecting information from a number of sentinel regions and emergency posts in dance and festival events since 2009, providing an insight into drug-related acute intoxications in sentinel centres. A second source on drug-related emergencies is the Injury Information System (LIS), which collects data from the emergency departments of 14 hospitals.

In 2017, 5 117 drug-related emergencies were registered at the MDI and 788 emergencies were registered at the LIS. Despite the ever-increasing concentration of MDMA in ecstasy pills (in 2017, around 65 % of ecstasy pills tested by the Drug Information and Monitoring System (DIMS) contained more than 150 mg of MDMA), the contribution of ecstasy-related emergencies at first aid posts is decreasing and the level of intoxication is stabilising (and recently decreasing).

Emergency cases involving more than one illicit or licit substance have been reported more frequently. Since 2012, emergencies linked to 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA) have increased substantially, and the drug is often used in combination with other substances. Although no emergencies related to the use of 4-FA were recorded before 2012, 189 emergencies with 4-FA as the only drug were recorded in 2017, a decrease when compared with the 272 cases reported in 2016. 4-FA was placed on Schedule I of the Opium Act in May 2017.

In 2017, 22 % of the 5 905 emergencies were related to the use of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), alone or in combination with other drugs. The patients very often had a moderate or severe level of intoxication.

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.

Additional note for the Netherlands: Data on number and quantity of seizures do not include all relevant law enforcement units and should be considered partial, minimum figures. Data for amphetamines, heroin and MDMA include seizures by Dutch Customs and the Royal Military Police, but do not include seizures by national or regional police forces. Cocaine seizures represent the majority of large seizures, comprising data from Dutch Customs (including Rotterdam and Vlissingen harbours), the Royal Military Police and the National Police Force, but regional police force data are not included. Cannabis data are limited to police seizures of plants, cuttings and tops seized during dismantlement of cultivation sites. Data on precursors (scheduled and non-scheduled substances) are based exclusively on reports of suspicious transactions of such substances to the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Unit.