The recreational drug scene has evolved rapidly over the last decade, with new psychoactive substances (NPS) posing additional challenges. However, at present, there is no robust pan-European system in place for capturing data from hospital emergency services on the acute toxicity (harms) associated with the use of both ‘established drugs’ and NPS (1).
To address deficiencies in the data available, the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) project was established in 2013, funded through the European Commission’s Drug Prevention and Information Programme. The EMCDDA is a member of the Euro-DEN Steering Committee and is hosting its latest meeting in Lisbon today. Marking the occasion, the agency is also publishing, in its Best practice portal, new Euro-DEN guidelines on: ‘When to call the emergency services for unwell recreational drug users’ (see section NPS).
Euro-DEN consists of a network of 16 sentinel centres in 10 countries across Europe with specialist clinical, toxicological and research interests in the acute toxicity (harm) of both established drugs and NPS. During a 12-month data-collection period (October 2013– September 2014), the Euro-DEN centres recorded over 5 500 presentations to emergency departments with acute drug toxicity. The aim of today’s meeting will be to finalise the project’s final report, scheduled for release at the end of March.
In addition to undertaking data collection, the Euro-DEN project has also developed a training package for staff working in recreational settings (e.g. nightclubs and bars) focusing on the patterns of acute toxicity of drugs/NPS and how to help individuals who develop these. The training package is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of European citizens by improving the identification and management of acute toxicity by staff employed in this environment. It has been piloted in nightlife settings in four European cities — London, Oslo, Pärnu and Tallinn. The results of the pilot study will be published in the Euro-DEN project’s final report. The guidelines published today form part of this training package.