Cannabis, cocaine use in NL on the rise; fewer drug related deaths

Around 220 thousand Netherlands residents used cannabis on a daily or nearly daily basis in 2018, compared to 140 thousand the year before. The use of cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine in the Netherlands is well above the European average. But the number of drug-related deaths decreased in 2018 compared to the year before, according to the National Drug Monitor 2019 by the Trimbos Institute.

In 2018, 7.5 percent of the Netherlands' adult population had used cannabis in the past year, 4.6 percent in the past month, and 1.6 percent on a daily or nearly daily basis. Some 220 thousand people, or 1.6 percent of the adult population, used cocaine in that year. About a third of this group used cocaine monthly or more often.

Cocaine use is most common among 25 to 29-year-olds, highly educated, and residents of very urban areas. According to Trimbos, there are signals that cocaine is gaining popularity among certain groups of the nightlife crowd, especially in Amsterdam. 

The Institute also noted that using prescription medicines recreationally - without a prescription - is gaining ground int he Netherlands. In 2018, around one in 10 adults used sleeping pills or tranquilizers. About 3 percent, or over 400 thousand people, did so without a prescription. These medicines are most often used recreationally among 20 to 24-year-olds, and among highly educated people. In the nightlife crowd, sleeping pills and sedatives are used to counteract the after-effects of stimulants. 

A total of 224 people died of the consequences of drug use in 2018, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. That is a decrease from the 262 drug-related deaths in 2017.

The number of excessive drinkers and smokers decreased in the Netherlands over the past years. In 2018 there were 1.1 million excessive drinkers - more than 21 glasses of alcohol per week for men and 14 glasses for women - in the Netherlands. That is 8.2 percent of the adult population, compared to 9.9 percent in 2014. The number of smokers fell from 25.7 percent to 22.4 percent of the adult population between 2014 and 2018.