Research shows that people in the Netherlands drink at higher rates than people in other countries. The Trimbos Institute develops and gathers information about the use of alcohol, as well as any negative effects that drinking may cause. This data is used for prevention and education, enforcement, early detection, and early treatment. Trimbos collaborates with local and national partners to reduce the societal damage of alcohol abuse through customized data collection, the development and implementation of programs, and expert advice.

Monitoring alcohol in the Netherlands

To better understand the role that alcohol plays in Dutch society, the Trimbos Institute a number of monitoring studies related to alcohol. The results of the monitoring studies are used to develop effective alcohol policies, to implement targeted interventions, and to create meaningful support and education for those with alcohol-related problems.

Selected monitoring studies

  • The Dutch National School Survey is a national research effort regarding the use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and the internet among adolescents.
  • The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) is a collaborative effort of independent research teams in more than forty European countries; it is the largest multinational research project on adolescent substance use in the world.
  • The Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey collects data every four years on 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys' and girls' health and well-being, social environments, and health behaviors. HBSC includes 44 countries and regions across Europe and North America.
  • The WMH (World Mental Health)-WHO survey initiative is a project of the Assessment, Classification, and Epidemiology (ACE) Group at the World Health Organization, which coordinates the implementation and analysis of general population epidemiologic surveys of mental, substance use, and behavioral disorders.
  • The NEMESIS-2 study generates basic information about the mental health of the Dutch population, as well as changes in the mental health of the adult population over time. 
  • The study about the impact of raising age for drinking alcohol on drug use is a research regarding trends in cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamine, and cocaine use among 16 and 17 year olds, by comparing data on the prevalence of drug use before and after the policy change.

Informing the public about the harms of alcohol

The Trimbos Institute provides clear, evidence-based information to the Dutch population and professionals. This information is distributed through:

  • the Alcohol Infoline, a telephone support and information service;
  • the Alcohol Infoline website, which contains information about alcohol;
  • Alcohol, Drugs, and Aggression, a course for professionals working in night life settings. The training topics include how to deal with people who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and how to prevent aggression;
  • courses in alcohol abuse prevention; and
  • courses for first responders about how to work with those who are under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol policy in the Netherlands: A brief note

In the Netherlands, the purchasing age for alcohol is 18 years old. Moreover, teens younger than 18 are not allowed to carry alcohol with them in public places, including but not limited to on the street, in parks, at events, and at festivals. According to Dutch policy, liquor may only be sold at grocery stores, liquor stores, and snack bars. Cashiers are obliged to ask for identification and must refuse to sell alcohol to persons who cannot provide this. Moreover, bartenders are not allowed to sell alcohol to individuals who are already under the influence.

Alcohol, drugs, and minor mental handicaps

Around 1.4 million people in the Netherlands have a low IQ and issues surrounding full participation in society. Research shows that this population is more likely to misuse alcohol and drugs. The Trimbos Institute has developed several training sessions for caregivers, educational materials, a prevention program, and an e-learning module. These efforts aim to increase knowledge and skills about alcohol and drug use as well as detecting misuse, improving communication, and supporting youngsters with a minor mental handicap.



Els  Bransen

Els Bransen


Staff from the Trimbos Institution author or co-author nearly 200 publications a year. These range from peer-reviewed articles in distinguished Dutch and international journals to research reports and doctoral theses. Some of these articles and reports are listed below.

Zebregs, S., Putte, B. van den, de Graaf. A.. Lammers, J., & Neijens, P. C. (2015). The effects of narrative versus non-narrative information in school health education about alcohol drinking for low educated adolescents. BMC Public Health, 15(October), 1085. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2425-7

Glantz, M.D., Medina-Mora, M.E., Petukhova, M., Andrade, L.H., Anthony, J.C., de Girolamo, G., Graaf, R. de (2014). Alcohol abuse in developed and developing countries in the World Mental Health Surveys: Socially defined consequences or psychiatric disorder? The American Journal on Addictions, 23(2), 145-155. doi:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.12082.x

Janssen, M.M., Mathijssen, J.J.P., Bon-Martens, M.J.H. van, Oers, H.A.M. van, Garretsen, H.F.L. (2014). Adolescent audience segmentation on alcohol attitudes: A further exploration. Journal of Substance Use. doi:10.3109/14659891.2014.911976

Janssen, M.M., Mathijssen, J.J.P., Bon-Martens, M.J.H. van, Oers, H.A.M. van, Garretsen, H.F.L. (2014). A qualitative exploration of attitudes towards alcohol, and the role of parents and peers of two alcohol-attitude-based segments of the adolescent population. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, 9(20). doi:10.1186/1747-597X-9-20

Looze, M. de, Vermeulen-Smit, E., Bogt, T.F.M. ter, Dorsselaer, S.A.F.M. van, Verdurmen, J., Schulten. I., Engels, R.C.M.E. (2014). Trends in alcohol-specific parenting practices and adolescent alcohol use between 2007 and 2011 in the Netherlands. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25(1), 133-141. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2013.09.007

Mathijssen, J.J.P., Janssen, M.M., Bon-Martens, M.J.H. van, Oers, J.A.M. van, Boer, E. de, Garretsen, H.F.L. (2014). Alcohol segment-specific associations between the quality of the parent–child relationship and adolescent alcohol use. BMC Public Health, 14(872). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-872

Peeters, M., Monshouwer, K., Janssen, T., Wiers, R.W., Vollebergh, W.A.M. (2014). Working memory and alcohol use in at-risk adolescents: A 2-year follow-up. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38(4), 1176-1183. doi:10.1111/acer.12339

Peeters, M., Monshouwer, K., Schoot, R. van de, Janssen, T., Vollebergh, W.A., Wiers, R.W. (2014). Personality and the prediction of high-risk trajectories of alcohol use during adolescence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(5), 790-798.

Riper, H., Blankers, M., Hadiwijaya, H., Cunningham, J., Clarke, S., Wiers, R., Ebert, D. (2014). Effectiveness of guided and unguided low-intensity internet interventions for adult alcohol misuse: A meta-analysis. PLoS ONE, 9(6). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099912

Tuithof, M., Have, M. ten, Brink, W. van den, Vollebergh, W., Graaf, R. de (2014). Alcohol consumption and symptoms as predictors for relapse of DSM-5 alcohol use disorder. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 140, 85-91. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.03.035

Tuithof, M., Have, M. ten, Brink, W. van den, Vollebergh, W., Graaf, R. de (2014). The relationship between excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorders according to DSM-IV and DSM-5. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38(1), 249-256. doi:10.1111/acer.12248

Verdurmen, J.E.E., Koning, I.M., Vollebergh, W.A.M., Eijnden, R.J.J.M. van den, Engels, R.C.M.E. (2014). Risk moderation of a parent and student preventive alcohol intervention by adolescent and family factors: A cluster randomized trial. Preventive Medicine, 60, 88-94. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.12.027