The number of designer drug poisonings has been increasing for several years. Last year, a third of the total reported drug poisonings involved designer drugs, AD reports based on figures from the National Poison Information Center (NVIC).
Ten years ago, the NVIC received only a handful of poison reports due to designer drugs. That number increased to 555 in 2022, about a third of the total of around 1,800 drug poisoning reports. Designer drugs resemble other synthetic drugs like speed, GHB, or ecstasy, but the producers make a small change during production in the lab to circumvent the law and make the substances legal to sell.
Side effects of designer drugs include a high heart rate, high blood pressure, and elevated body temperature, according to the newspaper. In more severe cases, brain hemorrhages, arrhythmia, and dizziness are also possible.
“In practice, we also see that designer drugs are very popular,” Alex van Dongen, prevention worker at Novadic-Kentron, told AD. “It is very accessible. Availability is very high. There are sites where they offer drugs for a few euros. There is also a lot of advertising.”
Van Dongen called the increase in drug poisonings, whether designer or other, disturbing. He pointed out that the NVIC mainly received reports of poisonings from “classic” drugs like cannabis and MDMA. “The fact that more is used is often related to normalization. The more often it is said ‘everyone uses,’ the more it is accepted to take the pill. That is why we continue to emphasize: the vast majority of young people don’t use.”
The Netherlands is working on legislation to ban all substances used to make designer drugs. At the moment, producers find it easy to change the substances enough to put them on the market with a new composition that hasn’t been banned. Various countries, including Belgium and Germany, already have laws banning all designer drugs.