Over 250,000 people in the Netherlands have used the party drug ecstasy at least once in the past year, according to new figures published on Friday.
The research, by the national statistics office CBS and drugs research group Trimbos Institute, involved questioning a representative group of 6,000 people.
The figures show that 2.5% of the Dutch population take ecstasy, compared with a European average of 0.6%. The Dutch are also more likely to take amphetamines than any other Europeans.
In terms of cannabis use, around 8% of the Dutch have used it in the past year, which is above the 5.7% EU average but well below France (11%), Spain (9%) and the Czech Republic (9%).
However, major differences in the way countries research drug usage may have influenced the figures, making accurate comparisons difficult, the CBS warns.
City dwellers are more likely to take drugs than those who live in the country and men are bigger drug users than women. People with college or university education are twice as likely to have taken ecstasy at some point than those who are low or semi-skilled.
Around a quarter of the Dutch population have used cannabis at some point and its use reflects the same trend as ecstasy. Some 32% of people with degrees have taken cannabis at some point, compared with almost 17% of the low-skilled.
However, the low-skilled are more likely to take drugs on a daily basis, which is an important factor in developing addiction, the research shows.
Read the report (Dutch)
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