Substance Use among International College Students in The Netherlands: An Exploratory Study

Arne van den Bos, Eric Blaauw, Simon Venema, Bert Bieleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


International students form a large subgroup of university college students in The Netherlands. Because little is known about substance use in this group, we investigated substance use and the perceptions thereof in a sample of 515 international students in a Dutch university city using an online survey. Results showed high prevalence rates of substance use, especially for cannabis and
nitrous oxide balloons. Risk perceptions and attitudes mirrored prevalence (the most commonly used substances were perceived as the least harmful) and for each substance. Attitudes toward a particular substance were also indicative of recent use of that substance. Further, international students highly overestimated the prevalence of cannabis and ecstasy use in the Dutch adult population. The level of estimation of ecstasy use was also an indicator of recent ecstasy use. Regarding substance use and perceptions thereof, we found no clear subgroups among international students. As international students also appeared more reluctant to speak about substance use with (university) professionals than with friends and fellow students, these findings underline a unique opportunity for social networks of students to provide information about substance use, including associated norms, especially to new international students.
Translated title of the contributionMiddelengebruik onder internationale studenten in Nederland: Een verkennende studie
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2024


  • students
  • drug use
  • norms
  • normalisation


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