In Stuttgart, Germany, the number of drug charges involving novel psychoactive substances (NPS) is on the rise. And, according to drug clinics in the area, the so called “legal highs” are also contributing to a growing number of fatal overdoses.
The senior physician at a local drug addiction clinic spoke of a 23-year-old who had almost died while on unknown chemicals. Three Police officers kept him from jumping off a ledge several stories high. “He explained to me,” Benedict Bloching, the clinic’s senior physician said, “that he had never had such bad experiences with illegal drugs before. Such cases are a commonplace at the clinic, Bloching explained. However, “such drug cases are often not recognized at all.”
Bloching explained that the needingly rushed working of emergency services, equipped with cheap drug tests, resulted in a lapse of knowledge as to what the drug’s identity. Expensive “lab tests” are necessary to identify the drugs, and even that is often a waste. “Every month new, slightly modified chemical structures are added,” he said, adding that they often resemble (traditional) amphetamines and marijuana in certain effects and can cause matching false positives.
The “typical” side effects, according to the LPP, are as follows:
“Nausea, vomiting, heart rash, anxiety, delusions, symptoms of paralysis, circulatory collapse and failure of vital functions such as breathing and pulse. Consumers report strong withdrawal symptoms. Even deaths associated with the consumption of these products are known.”
As of November 2016, citizens lived under the New Psychoactive Substances Act, a law created to kill the production of designer drugs. According to Philipp Molsberger, a public prosecutor in Stuttgart, the law “obviously” changed nothing for the end user. He added that “the basic idea was good.”
The Consumer and the Darknet
At this point, the darknet may seem unrelated to Stuttgart’s issue with Novel Psychoactive Substances. But, as with many “new drugs,” officials blamed darknet drug marketplaces for the NPS influx. First, the consumer makes a self-preservation step, the public prosecutor said:”a consumer wants the intoxication, but not the crime that comes with it.” He explained that since those customers will always buy, police needed to pursue only dealers.
One person said that NPS trade is only on the darknet—an incorrect statement, but an easy assumption make. Molsberger confirmed, “the Darknet is the problem with the NPS.”As of right now, “medical professionals try to cope with the phenomenon better.” And one way this had already occurred was at an event in late 2016. Medical professionals hosted it and speakers talked about these Novel Psychoactive Substances. Law enforcement made an appearance and an even tighter collaboration blossomed during the first half of 2017.
Hanjo Leukam, of the Ministry of the Interior in Baden-Württember (Landespolizeipräsidium Unit 32) spoke alongside addiction counselors and other medical professionals.