From November 2023 until November 2024, RIVM and the Trimbos Institute will be monitoring traces of drugs in sewage. This is a national trial that will involve measurements to detect five types of drugs: cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy, speed and (new) designer drugs. 

To that end, RIVM will be measuring the quantities of benzoylecgonine, methamphetamine, MDMA, amphetamine, 3-CMC and 4-CMC in Dutch sewage. These measurements are expected to provide a more complete picture of the quantities of drugs used by people in the Netherlands. As a result, sewage research may supplement other research, such as the National Drug Monitor (NDM) carried out by the Trimbos Institute. 

Representative sewage research

This trial was commissioned by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Ministry of Justice and Security. The zones where the measurements will be conducted are spread out across the country. These zones vary in terms of their population make-up and their location in urban or rural areas. This way, the trial will provide a comprehensive overview of the situation at the national and regional levels (north, east, central, south and west). 

How will the sewage research be carried out?

In November 2023, RIVM and scientific laboratories conducted measurements in the sewage system for seven days in a row. Together, this set of measurements forms the baseline measurement. Another four measurements will be conducted: one around the turn of the year and the others in March, September and November 2024. Every measurement will be followed up with an analysis. Finally, the five analyses combined will paint a picture of the quantities of drugs in sewage over time and per measurement zone. The Trimbos Institute and RIVM will compare this picture with the outcomes of other research into drug use in the Netherlands. This will allow them to determine whether sewage research can be of added value to the country’s research into drug use. 

Results in early 2025

In early 2025, RIVM will publish the results of the sewage measurements broken down by region (north, east, central, south and west). Together with the Trimbos Institute, RIVM will also provide context to the measurements, focusing on the added value of sewage research.