Antwerp Drugs and Alcohol Monitor: A Belgian local drug scene in the picture


Julie Tieberghien MSc, Researcher, Tom Decorte PhD, Professor in Criminology. Ms Julie Tieberghien, Institute for Social Drug Research, Universiteitstraat 4, 9000 Gent, Belgium. Tel: +32 (0)9/264 84 63; Fax: +32 (0)9/264 84 95; E-mail:


Introduction and Aims. Qualitative data on local drug scenes in Belgium are scarce. As information on them remains limited to the official registration systems, the needs of a number of drug users are not taken into account. From a social scientific and policy point of view, there is a need for information on the experiences and the patterns of drug use. In this study, we have developed and tested a drugs and alcohol monitor for the city of Antwerp. Design and Methods. The Antwerp Drugs and Alcohol Monitor (ADAM) combines three qualitative methods: (i) in-depth interviews with 39 key informants; (ii) ethnographic fieldwork by four community fieldworkers; and (iii) ethnographic fieldwork by the researcher. This methodology is based on an analysis of national and international literature on drug-monitoring systems. Results. This paper presents an overview of the results of a pilot study in the city of Antwerp. The ADAM produces a detailed picture of the local drug issues (nature and extent of use, drug markets, quality of life, etc.) and thus offers the understanding that is required for a well-founded local drug policy. Discussion and Conclusions. Provided that repeated measurements are made, a local drug monitor can inform policymakers, treatment experts, etc. on developments and phenomena concerning drug use. However, the ADAM is a qualitative drug-monitoring system, and it must be emphasised that a combined monitor is more efficient. Indeed, a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods enhances the reliability of the results.[Tieberghien J, Decorte T. Antwerp Drugs and Alcohol Monitor: A Belgian local drug scene in the picture. Drug Alcohol Rev 2009]