European Drug Report 2018 published

June 7, 2018

In the ‘European Drug Report, Trends and Developments 2018,’ published today, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) shows an increase in cocaine availability in the European drug market, a worrying sign of increased opioid deaths, and indications for increased drug production in Europe.

When it comes to the percentage of stimulant users in the general population, the position of the Netherlands is noteworthy. The Netherlands holds by far the first position when it comes to ecstasy and amphetamines; it holds third place with regard to cocaine, after the United Kingdom and Denmark.

The rise of (illegal) fentanyl, highly potent synthetic opioids associated with a substantial share of overdose deaths in the United States and Canada, also is alarming monitoring organizations in Europe. For now there are no signs that the Netherlands is being flooded with these substances, even though medical prescriptions for fentanyl are on the rise.

The EMCDDA also sees a possible increase in the use of New Psychoactive Substances, especially synthetic cannabinoids, in prisons. Addiction problems among prisoners occur frequently in the Netherlands (National Drug Monitor 2017), but little is known about NPS use among this population group.

The EMCDDA also shows a decrease in the number of New Psychoactive Substances being reported, possibly due to stricter drug policies in EU member states and/or control measures targeting production in China. In the Netherlands, 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA) is still by far the most important ‘NPS’ found in drug specimens, yet its share decreased in 2017, possibly as a result of the prohibition of this substance (May 25, 2017).

The finding that cocaine is more readily available in the market also seems to be the case in the Netherlands. Cocaine use among adults has increased since 2014 and cocaine purity level is high and increasing. Also, the most important adulterant, levamisole, is found considerably less.

Increase number of drug-induced deaths
The EMCDDA also points out the increase in the number of drug-induced deaths since 2011. In 2016, it concerned over 9,000 cases in the EU, Norway, and Turkey. The Netherlands as well has seen an increase in registered drugs deaths in past years; however, it cannot be stated as a fact whether this is indeed an increase, or due to a change in detecting and registering drug-related deaths.

More publications
In addition to the European Drug Report 2018, the following will also be published today:

  • the ‘Country Drug Report 2018 for the Netherlands’, with a summary of the Dutch statistics;
  • a report of the Early Warning System 2018, specifically focusing on the rise of synthetic cannabinoids and opioids (such as fentanyl derivatives);
  • a report about the use of New Psychoactive Substances in prisons;
  • two (digital) publications: about the abuse of benzodiazepines among problematic opiate users and about drug use locations.

All reports can be downloaded at

In cooperation with the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) and commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) and the Ministry of Justice and Security, the Trimbos Institute reports about developments in the drugs situation in the Netherlands. The Trimbos Institute does so in its role as one of the 28 Focal Points in the EU member states. These data form the basis for several of the EMCDDA reports.

A printed edition of the European Drug Report 2018 can be requested from Mrs. Danielle Branderhorst.

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