Wastewater study reveals the Netherlands remains drug capital of Europe

Wastewater study reveals the Netherlands remains drug capital of Europe

A recent study conducted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has revealed that wastewater in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven report some of the highest concentrations of cocaine, MDMA and cannabis out of over 100 cities across Europe.

EMCDDA analyses wastewater to determine drug use across Europe

As part of their study into drug residue in wastewater across Europe, the EMCDDA analysed sewage water in 104 cities and towns. Samples were collected and tested for traces of cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine, methamphetamine, ketamine, and MDMA, allowing researchers to determine the consumption of different drugs in each city. 

Once again, the study revealed interesting trends in drug use across the continent, and that the loads of different stimulant drugs in 2022 “varied considerably across the study locations”. The Netherlands, however, displayed some of the highest concentrations of a number of the different drugs monitored as part of the research. 

3 Dutch cities among Europe’s lists of drug capitals

Three Dutch cities were included in this year’s study: Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Eindhoven. Not only did the study reveal that these cities have some of the highest concentrations of cocaine, but the EMCDDA also found that the Netherlands had some of the highest loads of amphetamine, MDMA and, unsurprisingly, cannabis. 

Of the three, Amsterdam’s water was found to have the highest concentrations of cocaine, cannabis, MDMA and methamphetamine. Meanwhile, Utrecht took the top spot when it came to consumption of amphetamine. 

Amsterdam reports high levels of cocaine, MDMA and cannabis

The Dutch capital claimed spots in the top 20 cities across all five of the drugs that were monitored in the city, indicating that Amsterdam remains one of Europe’s drug capitals. Interestingly, Amsterdam is not the cannabis capital of Europe - that honour goes to the Swiss city of Geneva - although the Dutch capital did come in second place ahead of Barcelona. 

Once again, Amsterdam was found to be the MDMA capital of Europe; consumption increased between 2021 and 2022, from a daily average of 125 milligrams per 1.000 people to 183,32 milligrams. Utrecht (111,62 milligrams) and Eindhoven (81,01 milligrams) came in fourth and fifth place respectively.

According to the EMCDDA, together with Antwerp Amsterdam’s sewage water was found to have the highest levels of crack cocaine. The water in Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Utrecht was also found to have high concentrations of cocaine, with Amsterdam coming in third place overall behind Antwerp and Tarragona with an average load of 1.142,43 milligrams per 1.000 people per day - a significant increase compared to 2021. Eindhoven and Utrecht recorded levels of 713,67 and 651,63 milligrams respectively.

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Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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