What are hard drugs?

There are two types of drugs. These are hard drugs and soft drugs. There is a tolerance policy in the Netherlands regarding the use of soft drugs, but hard drugs are illegal. Strict action is therefore being taken against its use and trade. You can become addicted to hard drugs, which in turn has serious consequences for your mind and body.


Examples of hard drugs include heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, speed, LSD and opium. There are approximately 32,000 youth and young adults who use cocaine. About 40,000 people use XTC. Heroin use has been declining in recent years.


The use of hard drugs entails many risks. You can become seriously addicted to it, develop psychological problems or suffer brain damage. In our country, rules have therefore been established to limit the use of hard drugs. These rules are described in the Opium Act. Someone who uses hard drugs can therefore become addicted to them. Each hard drug has a different addiction and different symptoms. For example, someone may be a cocaine or heroin addict.

Cocaine addiction

Cocaine is also called coke. It is a drug that is also regularly used in the nightlife scene. Coke has a stimulating effect. It puts you in a kind of daze. After these drugs wear off, you become depressed. This depression is the most well-known withdrawal phenomenon. Furthermore, a cocaine addict needs more and more cocaine to achieve the desired effect.

Heroin addiction

One of the strongest and most dangerous addictive substances is heroin. Once you have used these drugs once or twice, you can often no longer live without them. Your life will then be completely dedicated to this. This is mainly due to the severe withdrawal symptoms that occur, such as feeling ill, feeling constantly cold, experiencing abdominal cramps and severe muscle pain. You get these withdrawal symptoms after two or three weeks of using heroin. So your body gets used to these drugs quite quickly.


In the Netherlands, addicts who want to kick the habit are treated very well. If withdrawal is not possible, the goal is to improve the addict’s health and reduce the risks. This is done, among other things, by giving drug users the opportunity to exchange their used syringes for clean, sterile ones free of charge. This reduces the risk of HIV or Hepatitis B and C infection. Users also have the option of methadone treatment. User areas are also offered.

Penalties and fines

Someone is punished for the possession, trade, sale or production of hard drugs. For example, an adult who possesses more than half a gram of hard drugs for personal use will receive a fine of 67,000 euros and/or a maximum prison sentence of four years. The punishment for an adult who deals in hard drugs is more severe. The can receive a prison sentence of up to eight years and/or a fine of 67,000 euros. Anyone who imports hard drugs into the Netherlands will also receive a punishment or fine. The maximum sentence here is twelve years and/or a fine of 67,000 euros.

The approach

Our government is very closely involved in tackling hard drugs, especially with regard to ecstasy. Strict checks are often carried out and a lot is invested in international cooperation. The government also spends a lot of time conducting campaigns in schools. The danger of using hard drugs is made clear.

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