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Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Netherlands

Van Amsterdam J.,Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research | Nutt D.,Imperial College London | Van Den Brink W.,University of Amsterdam
Journal of Psychopharmacology | Year: 2013

New psychoactive drugs (NPDs, new psychoactive substances) enter the market all the time. However, it takes several months to ban these NPDs and immediate action is generally not possible. Several European countries and drug enforcement officers insist on a faster procedure to ban NPDs. Introduction of generic legislation, in which clusters of psychotropic drugs are banned in advance, has been mentioned as a possible solution. Here we discuss the pros and cons of such an approach. First, generic legislation could unintentionally increase the expenditures of enforcement, black market practices, administrative burden and health risks for users. Second, it may have a negative impact on research and the development of new treatments. Third, due to the complexity of generic legislation, problems in the enforcement are anticipated due to lack of knowledge about the chemical nomenclature. Finally, various legal options are already available to ban the use, sale and trade of NPDs. We therefore conclude that the currently used scientific benefit-risk evaluation should be continued to limit the adverse health effects of NPDs. Only in emergency cases, where fatal incidents (may) occur, should this approach be overruled. © The Author(s) 2013. Source


Van Dijk D.,Robert Bosch GmbH | Koeter M.W.J.,University of Amsterdam | Koeter M.W.J.,Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research | Hijman R.,University Utrecht | And 2 more authors.
Schizophrenia Research | Year: 2012

Background: Findings on the impact of cannabis use on the course of schizophrenia are inconsistent and not conclusive. Aims: To study the effect of cannabis use on the course of schizophrenia taking into account the effects of the quantity of cannabis use and important confounders. Methods: Prospective cohort study with assessments of symptoms, confounders and hospitalizations at baseline, 6. month and 12. month follow up. Results: In a representative cohort of 145 male patients with schizophrenia, 68 (46.9%) used cannabis. Mean age at onset of schizophrenia in cannabis using patients was significantly lower than in non-cannabis using patients. No other cross-sectional demographic or clinical differences were observed between users and non-users. In a series of longitudinal analyses, cannabis use was not associated with differences in psychopathology, but relapse in terms of the number of hospitalizations was significantly higher in cannabis using patients compared to non-cannabis using patients. Conclusions: Patients with schizophrenia using cannabis are more frequently hospitalized than non-cannabis using patients but do not differ with respect to psychopathology. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. Source


Van Amsterdam J.,National Health Research Institute | Van Den Brink W.,University of Amsterdam | Van Den Brink W.,Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research
Journal of Psychopharmacology | Year: 2013

The aim of this paper is to create awareness of the negative health impact and economic burden and benefits associated to alcohol consumption. Worldwide about two billion people consume alcohol. Low intake of alcohol has a minor protective cardiovascular effect. On the other hand, even moderate alcohol consumption appears to be weakly, but significantly, associated to a limited number of chronic diseases. Alcohol causes a considerable economic burden to society due to the high absolute number of alcohol consumers. As such, alcohol abuse is more harmful for public health and society than illicit drug use. Some 3.7% of alcohol consumers (worldwide 76 million people) have an alcohol use disorder leading to 60-70% of the societal costs related to alcohol. Therefore, policy measures should, in addition to regulatory measures to reduce alcohol use, aim at closing the treatment gap and improving treatment effectiveness of people with an alcohol use disorder. The key message is that policy-makers unjustifiably focus on the harm of illicit drugs, whereas they underestimate the harm of alcohol use. Policy makers should therefore consider alcohol to be at least as harmful as illicit drugs and invest more in prevention and harm reduction strategies for alcohol abuse and dependence. © The Author(s) 2013. Source


Van Amsterdam J.,University of Amsterdam | Nutt D.,Imperial College London | Phillips L.,The London School of Economics and Political Science | Van Den Brink W.,University of Amsterdam | Van Den Brink W.,Amsterdam Institute for Addiction Research
Journal of Psychopharmacology | Year: 2015

Background: The present paper describes the results of a rating study performed by a group of European Union (EU) drug experts using the multicriteria decision analysis model for evaluating drug harms. Methods: Forty drug experts from throughout the EU scored 20 drugs on 16 harm criteria. The expert group also assessed criteria weights that would apply, on average, across the EU. Weighted averages of the scores provided a single, overall weighted harm score (range: 0-100) for each drug. Results: Alcohol, heroin and crack emerged as the most harmful drugs (overall weighted harm score 72, 55 and 50, respectively). The remaining drugs had an overall weighted harm score of 38 or less, making them much less harmful than alcohol. The overall weighted harm scores of the EU experts correlated well with those previously given by the UK panel. Conclusion: The outcome of this study shows that the previous national rankings based on the relative harms of different drugs are endorsed throughout the EU. The results indicates that EU and national drug policy measures should focus on drugs with the highest overall harm, including alcohol and tobacco, whereas drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy should be given lower priority including a lower legal classification. © The Author(s) 2015. Source


Grant
Agency: Narcis | Branch: Project | Program: Completed | Phase: Social Sciences | Award Amount: | Year: 2008

None

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