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CEDRO (2002), Small, but growing minority of Dutch population uses illegal drugs. Press release. Amsterdam: CEDRO.
© Copyright 2002 CEDRO Centrum voor Drugsonderzoek

[Report] [Dutch]

Small, but growing minority of Dutch population uses illegal drugs

Subtitle

Friday 30 August 2002

In August 2002, the Centre for Drug Research (CEDRO) of the University of Amsterdam completed its most recent study of drug use in the Netherlands. Drugs included in the study were alcohol, tobacco, sedatives, hypnotics, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, hallucinogens (including LSD), psychotropic mushrooms, opiates (including heroin), inhalants (such as glue and tri), smartdrugs, and performance enhancing substances (such as anabolic steroids). The 2001 study surveyed 18,000 respondents of 12 years and over, randomly selected from the Dutch population registry, and shows that drug use in the Netherlands is slowly increasing.

Since the first national survey was conducted in 1997, the proportion of the Dutch population ever having used cannabis has increased from 15.6% to 17.0% in 2001. The average age at which those people started using has remained the same at 19.7 years. While there were approximately 325.000 people in the Netherlands who would smoke cannabis once a month or more in 1997, in 2001 almost 408.000 reported doing so (for confidence intervals see table 5.6a). The use of so-called party drugs has also increased. For example, the proportion of the Dutch population ever having used cocaine has increased from 2.1% to 2.9% between 1997 and 2001. The use of ecstasy and the use of amphetamine are very similar. Both substances were used by 1.9% of the Dutch population in 1997, while this increased to 2.9% in 2001.

People who have ever used cannabis are most likely to be found in the age category 20-24 years. In this age group, use increased from 31.7% in 1997 to 41.9% in 2001. Cannabis use strongly decreases after the age of 25 years, with another sharp decrease after the age of 35 years (for details see table 6.5a). The proportion of people who have ever used cocaine in the group of 20 to 24-year-olds has increased from 3.9% in 1997 to 8.6% in 2001. Roughly 1 in 10 'ever users' still used cocaine in the month preceding the interview. This means that 0.4% of the population in the Netherlands of 12 years and over reported 'last month use' of cocaine (was 0.2% in 1997). For all illicit drugs it was found that the proportions for 'ever use' were considerably higher than those for recent use.

Drug use is still most prevalent in Amsterdam. In this city, 38.1% of the population of 12 years and over has ever used cannabis. In Rotterdam, the figure is 22.4%, while in the least densely populated areas of the Netherlands the figure was 11.4% (17.0% in the Netherlands as a whole).

CEDRO asks all 'last year users' of illicit drugs where they obtained those drugs. It was found that their buying habits have not changed. Hardly ever are any drugs other than cannabis sold in coffeeshops (for more detailed information on place of acquisition see tables 7.1 to 7.11).

In the supplements to the press release, information on the following can be found:

  1. 'Ever use' of all drugs, including licit drugs, in the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as a proportion of the population of 12 years and over in 1997 and 2001;
  2. 2) 'Last month use' of all drugs, including licit drugs, in the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, as a proportion of the population of 12 years and over in 1997 and 2001;
  3. A comparison of 'ever use' and 'last month use' of a number of drugs between the Netherlands in 2001 and Great Britain in 2000, as a proportion of the population in two different age categories.

Detailed information on drug use per drug, age group, or address density area is available from the publication Licit and illicit drug use in the Netherlands by M. Abraham, H. Kaal and P. Cohen (CEDRO/Mets 2002). This publication will be available in hard copy from the middle of September.

This study was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, and was conducted in cooperation with Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and NIPO. It is used by the government as an official source of drug use data on the Dutch population.

Note for the editors:
You can find this message on internet: http://www.uva.nl/actueel/. For more information you can contact Hendrien Kaal, telephone: +31-20-525 4061/+31-62398 6269, Peter Cohen, telephone: +31-20-525 4278/+31-622789441, or Manja Abraham (after 5 September), telephone: +31-20-525 7439.

Table 1: 'Ever use' of drugs in the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Rotterdam (12 years and over), in 1997 and 2001.
  Netherlands Amsterdam Rotterdam
Drug
1997 2001 1997 2001 1997 2001
Tobacco
67.9
66.4
71.8
68.8
65.8
64.8
Alcohol
90.2
91.6
88.7
87.2
86.2
86.2
Hypnotics
17.4
18.5
23.8
20.8
19.0
19.0
Sedatives
19.6
16.3
22.9
20.9
19.6
15.4
Cannabis
15.6
17.0
36.7
38.1
18.5
22.4
Cocaine
2.1
2.9
9.4
10.0
3.4
5.2
Amphetamines
1.9
2.6
6.0
6.6
2.7
3.8
Ecstasy
1.9
2.9
7.0
8.7
2.2
4.3
Hallucinogens all
1.8
1.3
6.3
4.8
1.8
2.2
   LSD
1.2
1.0
4.5
4.1
1.1
2.1
Mushrooms
1.6
2.6
6.6
7.6
2.4
4.4
Opiates all
11.7
8.2
21.4
12.6
12.5
7.3
   Morphine
4.1
3.1
4.4
4.4
4.7
3.0
   Codeine
7.3
5.0
16.0
7.2
7.5
4.4
   Heroin
0.3
0.4
1.8
1.3
0.4
0.9
Inhalants
0.5
0.8
1.9
2.6
0.6
1.1
Smart drugs all
.
2.5
.
7.1
.
3.1
   Herbal ecstasy
.
1.0
.
2.9
.
1.5
   Guarana etc.
.
1.7
.
4.9
.
1.9
Perf. enh.
0.9
0.7
1.5
0.8
0.8
0.7
Difficult drugs
4.1
4.9
14.3
15.5
5.3
7.3
No drugs
5.2
5.3
6.0
7.8
6.7
9.1
Total respondents
21,959
17,655
3,710
3,934
2,320
2,547
Difficult drugs are cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, hallucinogens (excl. mushrooms), heroin.
No drugs is none of the substances mentioned in the table.
Source: Abraham et. al. (2002), Licit and illicit drug use in the Netherlands 2001. Amsterdam: CEDRO/Mets en Schilt.

 

Table 2: Last month use of drugs in the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Rotterdam (12 years and over), in 1997 and 2001.
  Netherlands Amsterdam Rotterdam
Drug
1997 2001 1997 2001 1997 2001
Tobacco
34.3
30.2
42.0
36.7
35.2
32.8
Alcohol
73.3
75.1
71.5
73.5
67.1
68.8
Hypnotics
5.5
6.4
7.9
7.1
6.1
6.8
Sedatives
4.9
5.0
7.3
6.2
5.3
4.6
Cannabis
2.5
3.0
8.1
7.8
3.3
5.0
Cocaine
0.2
0.4
1.0
1.2
0.4
0.9
Amphetamines
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.3
0.1
0.2
Ecstasy
0.3
0.5
1.1
1.1
0.1
1.0
Hallucinogens all
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.1
0.0
0.2
   LSD
.
0.0
.
0.0
.
0.2
Mushrooms
0.1
0.1
0.6
0.3
0.1
0.1
Opiates all
1.0
1.0
4.2
1.2
1.2
1.2
   Morphine
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
   Codeine
0.9
0.7
3.6
0.9
0.8
0.8
   Heroin
0.0
0.1
0.3
0.1
0.0
0.2
Inhalants
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.5
0.1
0.2
Smart drugs all
.
0.3
.
1.2
.
0.5
   Herbal ecstasy
.
0.0
.
0.1
.
0.2
   Guarana etc.
.
0.2
.
0.8
.
0.3
Perf. enh.
0.2
0.2
0.3
0.3
0.2
0.1
Difficult drugs
0.5
0.8
2.0
2.1
0.5
1.5
No drugs
17.8
18.2
18.0
18.9
21.8
22.1
Total respondents
21,959
17,655
3,710
3,934
2,320
2,547
Difficult drugs are cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, hallucinogens (excl. mushrooms), heroin.
No drugs is none of the substances mentioned in the table.
Source: Abraham et. al. (2002), Licit and illicit drug use in the Netherlands 2001. Amsterdam: CEDRO/Mets en Schilt.

 

Table 3: Ever use and last month use of drugs in the Netherlands (2001) and England and Wales (2000), (age groups 16-59 years and 16-29 years).
Ever use
Age 16-59 Age 16-29
Drug
Netherlands (2001) E&W (2000) Netherlands (2001) E&W (2000)
Cannabis
22.6
27
35.1
44
Cocaine
3.9
5
5.5
10
Amphetamines
3.4
11
5.9
22
Ecstasy
3.9
5
8.9
12
Mushrooms
3.5
6
7.5
11
Last month use
Age 16-59 Age 16-29
Drug
Netherlands (2001) E&W (2000) Netherlands (2001) E&W (2000)
Cannabis
3.9
6
8.7
14
Cocaine
0.5
1
1.1
2
Amphetamines
0.3
1
0.6
2
Ecstasy
0.7
1
1.6
3
Mushrooms
0.1
0
0.3
1
Source: Ramsay et. al. (2001), British Crime Survey. London Home Office Research. Abraham et. al. (2002), Licit and illicit drug use in the Netherlands 2001. Amsterdam: CEDRO/Mets en Schilt.
Data for England and Wales are only available for the age group 16-59 years. To enable a comparison the Dutch estimates have been recalculated for the age categories used by the BCS.

 

Last update: May 25, 2016