On Thursday, authorities issued a warning about the new psychoactive substances found in ecstasy tablets in recent years. “Because of their poor quality and the health risks involved, ecstasy tablets with high doses of active substances remain our main source of concern on the Belgian drug market,” warns the ISP (Scientific Institute for Public Health) in its annual report on illicit drugs. “The levels of MDMA in ecstasy tablets has virtually doubled in recent years, leading to an alarming, increased risk of toxicity or even death,” highlights the Institute in its report on 2013 trends in drug consumption in Belgium.
The amount of amphetamines seized rose substantially. After a quiet 2011 (112 kg) and 2012 (54 kg), seizures of illicit drugs have rose sharply in 2013 (178 kg), although remain well below the levels we saw in 2007 (483 kg). Substantial amounts of methamphetamine were also seized in 2013 (38 kg compared to 3 kg in 2012 and 2 kg in 2011) continues the ISP.
Opiates and cocaine are still top of the list of most preferred injectable drugs in Belgium, and more than half of injecting drug users started their habit before reaching the age of 21. However there are important differences between the various groups of drug users currently seeking treatment, when it comes to socio-economic level, age, gender, or risk behaviour.
In recent years, experts have also noticed an increase in the number of people detained for drug-related incidents.