Drugs and alcohol in the Netherlands

Drugs and alcohol can have damaging consequences to your health and well-being. We know what university life can be like, and while we do not endorse the use of any substances (much less illegal ones!), we still want students to know that if they need help or support, they can get it. On this page, we’ll break down some risks associated with drugs and alcohol, as well as different avenues for getting guidance and assistance to navigate issues such as addiction.


The Netherlands has a famously liberal drug policy, but that doesn’t mean that everything is legal. This is why we have a dedicated page for those who want to learn more about the rules and regulations on cannabis and drug use. We highly recommend you read through this if you intend to use substances in the Netherlands, so that you don’t run into any problems with the law or the police.

Health consequences

You probably don’t need us to tell you that using drugs can have a negative impact on your health, both mental and physical. Addiction and psychosis as well as other negative health impacts can arise from a single use.  

Testing your substances

Drug use can be dangerous, and it’s important that you are aware of what you are consuming and what the possible consequences are. Beyond the obvious risks associated with various substances, it’s really important for students to know that obtaining drugs from illegal sources comes with even more dangers: ultimately, you never know what you’re getting. If you’re going to use drugs, you must test your substances. 

Rat poison and other chemicals have been found in certain drugs. One reoccurring substance is XTC, which appears in high dosage on the Dutch drug market and significantly raises the risks of drugs. You can use a drug test kit to determine whether or not your drugs contain undesirable substances. You can get these kits at local head shops, smart shops or online. However, be aware that these kits usually only show if the tested substance is indeed XTC or amphetamine. They do not show dosage or pollution levels, which means you can’t see some of the most essential details! 

If you don’t want to spend any money, look at the official government website which lists testing locations. The nearest one to Maastricht is in Heerlen. On this website you can find lists of tested drugs and warnings about specific ones that have been judged as extra dangerous.

Remember that there is no safe way to take drugs, but testing the quality before consuming is still a smart move.

If you want to know more about attitudes and statistics related to drug use in the Netherlands you can visit the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.


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