Amsterdam clubbers and ravers drink heavily and take more ecstasy

In the Amsterdam nightlife more and stronger ecstasy is used and amphetamine has gained popularity. These are the results of Antenna, the annual survey by the University of Amsterdam (Bonger Institute) and Jellinek Prevention into developments on the Amsterdam drugs market.

Amsterdam club scene in flux
The club scene of Amsterdam is under pressure. Smart young entrepreneurs organize parties at alternative locations, especially outside the city centre. This trend has been going on for a while. The key word is 'rave'. Raves are dance events that are not tied to a fixed location or a fixed evening. They range from small festivals to semi-legal parties, inside or in the open air.

There are clubbers who swear by raves, others prefer to go to clubs. But these scenes are not strictly separated: there are ravers that occasionally go to a club and clubbers that also visit raves. Another striking development in Amsterdam is the significantly expanding number of students. This is reflected within the nightlife. In the previous survey, in 2008, raves were not yet in vogue. Back then only clubbers were examined and 54% of them were students. In 2013, this applies to 66% of clubbers and ravers.

Alcohol remains popular
Alcohol remains the most commonly used substance. In the club or on a rave 88% drank alcohol. In addition, 67% took alcohol before going out and 16% would enjoy an alcoholic beverage afterwards. In total 93% of the party people drink alcohol on a night out with an average of 8 glasses.

Ecstasy is more popular than ever, amphetamine loses its negative image
55% of the clubbers and ravers in Amsterdam used ecstasy within the last month. If we compare this to 2008 these figures have more than doubled. Nearly a quarter (23%) of the clubbers had used amphetamines in the last month. In 2008 it was still 6%. Use of ecstasy during nights out increased from 9% to 29%. Amphetamine use during nights increased from 4% to 13%. The increase in the use of ecstasy and speed was mainly due to the ravers, but also the clubbers of 2013 who used these substances more than in 2008. On a night out, ravers took ecstasy more often (42% vs 17%) but they also took amphetamines more frequently than clubbers (34% vs 14%).

The dose of ecstasy pills was historically high in 2013: an average of 148 mg of MDMA per pill. There was much variation in the quality of pills, but nearly two out of three pills (64%) contained a high dose (> 140 mg MDMA). In recent years, amphetamine (speed) received a more positive image among trendsetters in the Amsterdam nightlife. Speed is relatively inexpensive. Incidentally what was sold as amphetamine in 2013 often largely consisted out of caffeine.

Moderate interest in new psychoactive substances (NPS)
Especially after the 'ecstasy crisis' of 2009, the supply of NPS grew rapidly. However, NPS are usually only used for experimental purposes. Up to now the usage of NPS remains on a much lower level than that of the 'classics'. 15% of the clubbers and ravers had, at one point, taken 4-FA (4-fluoro) but during the last month it was only used by a small 1%. Mephedrone first had a strong popularity surge in some European countries during the 'ecstasy crisis' but within the Amsterdam club scene it never really caught on and is now hardly ever used here.


Bonger Institute (UvA), Jellinek Prevention (Dutch only)