Taking drugs in the Netherlands: ecstasy use in Holland

So, you’ve made it to the Netherlands, but you’re not here for the art and tulips. You want to know more about taking ecstasy in the Netherlands. Remember, prepare before you pop!

Planning on taking drugs in the Netherlands?

Well, before we begin, I just want to point out that ecstasy (a.k.a XTC or MDMA) is considered a hard drug and is illegal in the Netherlands. It’s not like you can walk into a shop as you can with weed and buy ecstasy.

So it’s important to know all about ecstasy, its use, the law, and safety. What makes the Netherlands different is that they like to inform their users of the risks in order to keep people safe.

So, what is ecstasy (XTC/MDMA)?

Ecstasy is a psychoactive drug that is used recreationally, usually for dance music events. It emerged in the 1980s as a street drug and has only grown in popularity since.

Ecstacy is mostly used in club settings and on nights out. Image: Depositphotos

The person who takes the drugs will feel;

  • Euphoric
  • Energetic
  • Confident

Serotonin basically floods into your brain, and you’re happy as anything. This feeling tends to last for several hours after the user has taken the drug.

The adverse effects are issues such as;

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Teeth grinding
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat

A serious side effect of ecstasy is death. There can be serious consequences if the user has taken too much of the drug, if they are dehydrated, or if the drug has been cut with other substances.

It can also be addictive. Mood and setting are really important when taking ecstasy.

What is the law on ecstasy in the Netherlands?

Ecstasy is a ‘hard’ drug in the Netherlands, making it illegal. For some reason, people seem to think that every drug is legal in the Netherlands or, as people say, ‘what happens in Amsterdam…’ 

Ecstasy is illegal in the Netherlands, so make sure you know the law. Image: Depositphotos

You only have to do a quick Google search to see that there are so many people asking and thinking all drugs are legal in Amsterdam. I’m not entirely sure why this is, maybe because the Netherlands is known as ‘tolerant’ and ‘liberal’ when it comes to drugs and sex. ๐Ÿณโ€๐ŸŒˆ

Despite the fact that ecstasy is illegal in the Netherlands, it is still one of the most used illegal drugs on Dutch soil โ€” maybe because dance music is so widely listened to here.

READ MORE | 7 practical questions about smoking weed in Amsterdam, answered

Drug use is more openly discussed too, and the police tend to turn a blind eye if you are found with a small personal amount on you (and you aren’t causing trouble). In other countries, this will be enough to prosecute you โ€” and prosecute you. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Buying ecstasy in Amsterdam: dangers of street dealers

Tourists are easy targets to sell to, as they are usually hyper-excited to engage in drug use in the Dutch capital. However, these street dealers have been selling fake and dangerous drugs for a while now.

Buying illegal drugs from street dealers in Amsterdam is extremely risky. Image: Pixabay

Two tourists from my hometown in the UK (and who many of my friends knew) bought what they thought was cocaine from a street dealer in Amsterdam a few years back โ€” it was actually white heroin. They were found dead in their hotel room.

Yeah, it really can be that damn scary.

READ MORE | 17 best coffeeshops in Amsterdam: the best spots to smoke in 2023

This started many campaigns to encourage tourists to ‘ignore street dealers’ and signs and stickers were issued along the streets of Amsterdam. The Red Light District is where you’ll find most of these dealers.

In short: don’t buy from street dealers. It’s too risky.

How can I be sure what is in an ecstasy pill?

In short, you can’t. Do not believe the rubbish that comes out of people’s mouths when it comes to telling what’s in it.

It’s important to know what you’re taking if you’re experimenting with drugs. Pill testing saves lives. Image: Depositphotos

You have ‘experts’ who think that by looking at or licking it, they can be totally sure what’s in it, and that’s simply false.

YOf course, sometimes they can outright look dodgy as hell, so you make that decision first-hand. But in general, it’s impossible to tell EXACTLY what is inside it without testing it.

Tip: Remember to always test before you take. If you’re in Amsterdam for more than a week you can have your pills tested on the spot by official sources. And no, you won’t be arrested. It’s free and anonymous!

Are ecstasy pills from the Netherlands good?

Ecstasy pills in the Netherlands are stronger than the average, so if you are used to ecstasy somewhere else, then you cannot be sure that it’s the dosage you’re used to.

This is also a plus point of going to a test centre, so you’re aware of the strength of your pill.

Taking drugs in the Netherlands? Don’t forget to test them! Source: Dominic Milton Trott/Flickr/CC 2.0

You can buy self-testing kits in some shops in the Netherlands or from an online provider. These tell you if there is a strong reading of ecstasy inside the pill. This way, you can know if there is ecstasy present in the pill, but you still cannot tell what else is inside it.

You can also check pill reports, but they are not completely foolproof. For this, you would have to visit a drug testing clinic.

Can you get ecstasy tested in the Netherlands?

The good news? Yes, you can!

The Netherlands has specially designed clinics where you can take your drugs. They’ll compare your pill to others they’ve tested recently, or if they don’t have a match will take a sample. If they have a match in their system, you get the result on the spot.

Make sure to get your drugs tested at an Amsterdam clinic if you’re unsure of what’s inside. Image: Pexels

If not, the sample will be sent off to the lab, where it will be tested. Once the results are back (no longer than a one-week wait), you will receive a phone call. Then, they will inform you about what components make up your pill.

They will then advise you whether it would be safe to take it. For example, if it’s not real ecstasy, then they would tell you to get rid of the pill. In the case that you still want to take it, they may also offer you advice on how to stay safe and minimise any risk of overdose.

READ MORE | Your complete guide to drugs in the Netherlands

This is a way of educating and informing the user all about the pill they have.

Where can I get my ecstasy tested in Amsterdam?

There are two testing centres in Amsterdam.

๐ŸขName: Jellinek Test Centre
๐Ÿ“Location: Jacob Obrechtstraat 92, 1071 KR Amsterdam
๐Ÿ“žPhone Number: 088 505 1220, open Monday to Friday, 8.30 AM to 5 PM
๐Ÿช™Cost: โ‚ฌ2.50

๐ŸขName: GGD Amsterdam
๐Ÿ“Location: Valckenierstraat 4, 1018 XG Amsterdam
๐Ÿ“žPhone Number: 020 555 5911, open Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM
๐Ÿช™Cost: โ‚ฌ2.50

At these centres, they will test a sample of your ecstasy and let you know what it is composed of. You will not get in trouble for going to these test centres, and they will keep your info anonymous.

If you want to get them tested outside of Amsterdam, there’s a map with all locations in the Netherlands where you can get your drugs tested.

Taking ecstasy, do’s and don’ts:

DutchReview isn’t here to glamourise drug use, but it’s important to be educated on drugs and their effects. Here are a few things that you must take into consideration if you are taking it.


  • Take ecstasy if you have decided to. Not because your friends are doing it or because someone asked you to.
  • Take small doses and work your way up โ€” don’t rush it
  • Make sure that you have someone with you that you can trust in case something goes wrong
  • Make sure that you can go somewhere to cool off. Ecstasy makes your body temperature rise, which, mixed with dancing, can cause your body to shut down as it overheats. Always take a breather!
  • If you’re feeling weird or panicky, take a breather and try having a chat with a close friend
  • Test before you use


  • Buy drugs from street dealers
  • Down water or any other liquid after taking ecstasy โ€” you could drown. Ecstasy affects the way that your body deals with water (and levels of salt), and you won’t be able to pass the liquid
  • Take ecstasy on an empty stomach: it hits you faster and harder, and it suppresses hunger. This will exhaust your body
  • Mix alcohol and drugs. Alcohol makes you pee, while ecstasy doesn’t. It’s a recipe for disaster, and it’s very dangerous.

Where can I get help with my ecstasy use?

Although many people don’t have any complications, it can happen, so we thought we’d leave this here unless you need some help.

Are you or a friend/family member having an issue with their drug use? There are plenty of people that are out there to help, and you don’t have to deal with it alone. There are a few helplines that you can call, and they will help you.

Don’t be worried about asking for help because the drug is illegal. Be assured: you won’t get in trouble.

Did you know that ecstasy was illegal in the Netherlands? Tell us in a comment below! ๐Ÿ‘‡

Editorโ€™s Note: This article was originally published in October 2018, and was fully updated in July 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Taking ecstasy in Amsterdam: frequently asked questions

Is ecstasy legal in the Netherlands

Is buying ecstasy in the Netherlands safe?

Where can I test ecstasy drugs in Amsterdam?

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Emma Brown
Emma Brown
A familiar face at DutchRevew. Emma arrived in Holland in 2016 for a few weeks, fell in love with the place and never left. Here she rekindled her love of writing and travelling. Now you'll find her eating stroopwafels in the DutchReview office since 2017.

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  1. “Never down water or any other liquid after taking Ecstasy โ€“ you could drown. Ecstasy affects the way that your body deals with water (and levels of salt) and you wonโ€™t be able to pee”
    Are you NUTS, people will die of dehydration! Drink water if your thirsty! Just don’t drink to much, moderation is key, especially if you doing a 8 hour session of dancing, chilling, letting your mates know how much you love them. This is the danger of the information age, bad advice! Not being able to pee affects people with underlying health conditions, in that case, don’t do drugs at all. Yes XTC does make it hard to piss, but not impossible, just take your time and drink sensibly and lick a lollipop. Remember to eat well in the days before. Have a balanced diet (you should anyway). Try and eat some yoghurt the morning after, then gradually as your appetite returns, eat two eggs, toast with butter, redbush tea and fruit (eggs are key to normality, clearing out toxins). Get rest in a peaceful atmosphere, you don’t want to be stressed on a comedown, YOUTUBE is your buddy, I like SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH’S voice over some nature videos, but we all have our vices.


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