Reports everywhere about drug use in nightlife: what about that?

Numbers are missing

It is therefore a well-known phenomenon among young people, but there is no national picture. A tour of large hospitals shows that they do not register drugs. “We are focused on making someone better. And for treatment it usually doesn’t matter whether someone has drunk too much or whether GHB has been added to the drink. So we usually don’t test that,” says toxicologist Corine Bethlehem of the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam.

There are also no figures for the police. Drugging itself does not form a separate category in the police system, so reports are not collected. It also often remains with suspicions, and drugs are almost never proven.

“If someone thinks they have been drugged, it must be more than a suspicion. It is difficult to start an investigation without clues,” said Bobby Markus of the National Police. “That could be, for example, that you were subsequently robbed or assaulted, or that you have a blood or urine test that actually shows that there was, for example, GHB in your body.” And then again a forensic doctor must be present.

Symptoms are similar

That’s where it often goes wrong. If someone is brought into the hospital at night, hospitals often do not test, because it is not a priority for them. But by the time someone goes to the police, it is often too late. “Ghb, for example, is already out of your body within half a day. When people have slept in their intoxication, testing usually no longer makes sense,” says Bethlehem.

Moreover, it is difficult to distinguish between a drug and alcohol intoxication. “The symptoms are very similar,” says Van Beek. “People can underestimate the effects of alcohol. Alcohol can be very different from normal, for example because you are tired or you don’t feel mentally fit. Or an environment where you don’t feel comfortable can contribute to anxious feelings, which can lead to to amnesia that you could later attribute to a drug.”