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    ‘Health-conscious’ drug use on the rise in Flanders

    Flemish clubbers are adopting a more responsible attitude when taking illegal drugs but continue taking "major health risks" with alcohol, a new survey found. Credit: Pexels

    Alcohol consumption rates in the Flemish clubbing scene are peaking at the same time as the intake of illegal drugs is declining, as a growing number of Flemish party-goers adopt a more responsible attitude towards illegal drugs, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

    In its latest report, the Flemish Expertise Center on Alcohol and other Drugs (VAD) surveyed nearly 700 people who attended a club, a festival or a “dance event” in 2018.

    While the survey found that alcohol was the only drug with which three-quarters of respondents took “major health risks,” its results showed that illegal-drug users were increasingly adopting a more “health-conscious” approach when using, in comparison with previous figures.

    “The first survey in 2003 found that a quarter of respondents said they would not take preventative measures [when taking illegal drugs]. In 2018, that number accounts for less than 5% [of respondents]” the results read.

    Respondents said that the main measures they took when under the influence of illegal drugs was to avoid driving, to drink enough water and to dress lightly to prevent body temperatures to rise.

    Six out of ten respondents also said they would have their drugs tested if offered the possibility.

    Use of ‘entertainment drugs’ falling

    After alcohol, the survey found that the most commonly used drug among Flemish clubbers is marijuana, with one in seven respondents saying they used it “at least once a week.”

    The survey also found that the use of so-called “classic entertainment drugs,” like ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine is declining, as regular use is “rare.”

    Less than 1% of respondents said they took ecstasy at least once a week, compared to over 5% ten years ago.

    Overall cocaine consumption remains low but the survey registered its second-highest rate of users of this drug, as 3% of respondents said they used cocaine at least once a week in the past year.

    While the survey found that ketamine use was increasing —echoing the results of a previous, less-representative Global Drug Survey—, VAD’s results put the previous findings into perspective, as the figures show that the increase in ketamine use is “much lower” than recorded in the global survey.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times