Taking drugs in the Netherlands: ecstasy use in Holland

Not here for the art and tulips? Want to know more about taking drugs in the Netherlands? What would your mother think?! Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s all you need to know about taking XTC/MDMA/Ecstasy in Amsterdam (or other Dutch cities for that matter.) 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) is illegal in the Netherlands. It’s not like you can walk into a shop like you can with weed and buy and take XTC. It is considered a hard drug in the Netherlands and therefore it is trafficked and sold by dealers illegally.

This has not put people off taking it, it’s actually one of the most popular drugs in the Netherlands. 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. DutchReview wants to speak a bit more about this so, here goes! All about taking drugs in the Netherlands: XTC…

PS. We’re gonna go ahead and just use the words Ecstasy and XTC whenever we want, interchangeably.

So, what is Ecstasy (XTC)?

XTC 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. The person who takes the drugs will feel euphoric, energetic and 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 and rapid heartbeat. A serious side effect is death (yep, that’s serious) if the user has taken too much, is too dehydrated or 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 and so it is illegal. For some reason, people seem to think that every drug is legal in the Netherlands or as people say ‘in Amsterdam.’ You only have to do a quick Google search to see that there are so many people asking if or why all drugs being legal in Amsterdam. I also have friends who have assumed that all drugs were legal.

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. However, I can assure you that it is illegal here. Despite this, it one of the most used illegal drugs here in the Netherlands – likely because dance music is widely listened to here. 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 – and prosecute you they will.

Getting XTC in Amsterdam: street dealers

Street dealers often target tourists in Amsterdam, offering to provide them with good quality drugs. This is not the case though! Tourists are easy targets and what happens in Amsterdam, stays in Amsterdam, right? However, these street dealers have been selling fake and dangerous drugs for a while now.

Two Brits from my hometown (and who many of my friends knew) bought what they thought was cocaine from a street dealer in Amsterdam a few years back – it was actually white heroin. They were found dead in their hotel room. Yeah, it really can be that damn scary.

This started many campaigns to encourage tourists to ‘ignore street dealers’ – and signs and stickers were issued out along the streets of Amsterdam. The Red Light District is where you’ll find most of these dealers. In short: don’t buy from them, it’s not worth the risk.

taking drugs in the netherlands
It’s important to know what you’re taking if you’re experimenting with drugs. Pill testing saves lives. Image: qimono/Pixabay

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. You have ‘experts’ who think that by looking or licking at it, they can be totally sure what’s in it and that’s simply untrue. You may think you have an idea, but in short, you can’t tell EXACTLY what is in it. Of 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.

Are XTC pills from the Netherlands ALWAYS 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 are aware of the strength of your pill.

You can buy self-testing kits in some shops in the Netherlands or from an online provider. These tell you if there is 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 fool-proof. For this, you would have to visit a drug testing clinic.

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

Can you get Ecstasy tested in the Netherlands?

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. This 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. In this phone call 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. If it is, they would still tell you it is unsafe to take, however to minimise your risk you should do “this”. It’s a way of educating and informing the user all about the pill they have.

Taking drugs in the Netherlands? Now you can rave and know you’ve been safe about it

Where can I get my Ecstasy tested in Amsterdam?

There are two testing centres in Amsterdam. One of them is Jellinek in the south and the other GGD. Here 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 anonymously. Here is the address to find them:

Jacob Obrechtstraat 92
1071 KR Amsterdam (Zuid)

GGD Amsterdam
Valckenierstraat 4
1018 XG Amsterdam

Taking Ecstasy, do’s and don’ts:

DutchReview aren’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.

  • Only take Ecstasy if YOU have decided to. Not because your friends are doing it or because someone asked you to. You should take it only if you are comfortable doing so
  • Do not buy drugs from street dealers and always test it before you use!
  • Never down water or any other liquid after taking Ecstasy – you could drown. Ecstasy affects the way that your body deals with water (and levels of salt) and you won’t be able to pee
  • Do take small doses and work your way up – there’s no need to rush
  • Don’t take Ecstasy on an empty stomach, it hits you faster and harder and as it suppresses hunger, you may not eat for hours and it will exhaust your body
  • Always 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, that mixed with dancing can cause your body to shut down as it overheats. Always take a breather
  • Don’t mix alcohol and drugs. Alcohol makes you pee, Ecstasy doesn’t. It’s a recipe for disaster and it’s very dangerous. This goes for mixing hard drugs too
  • Do enjoy yourself and if you’re feeling weird or panicky, take a breather and try having a chat with a close friend.

Where can I get help with my Ecstasy use?

Although many people don’t get 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? Well, there are plenty of people that are out there to help and you don’t have to deal with it alone. Here 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, you won’t get in trouble.

Jellinek Drug & Alcohol Help | Website | Tel: 088 505 1220 (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Amersfoort, Hilversum)

Triora | Website | Tel: 088-358 24 52 (Amsterdam); 088-358 3741 (The Hague); 088-358 32 58 (Haarlem); 088 358 37 41 (Rotterdam)

IGHD verslavingzorg | Website | Tel: 010 423 2711 (Rotterdam)

After more guides about taking drugs in the Netherlands? What about a guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam? We’ve got you covered!

What is your opinion on how drug use is dealt with when taking drugs in the Netherlands? Leave a comment below!

Feature Image: Brett Hondow/Pixabay

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.


  1. “Never down water or any other liquid after taking Ecstasy – you could drown. Ecstasy affects the way that your body deals with water (and levels of salt) and you won’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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