Use characteristics and harm potential of ecstasy in The Netherlands


Introduction: Ecstasy (MDMA) is a popular recreational drug, but its illegal production and trade in the Netherlands have developed into a serious public order and ecological problem which endanger and question the harm reduction approach of the Dutch ecstasy policy.<br/>Methods: The market characteristics, adverse health effects, risk profile, and link to criminal activity of ecstasy were reviewed.<br/>Results: Ecstasy is often used in combination with other substances (i.e. polydrug use). Compared to several other illicit drugs and alcohol, ecstasy has a very low abuse and dependence liability and, as yet, there is little evidence of long-term harm. A potential health risk associated with ecstasy is acute hyperthermia, however this occurs at an unknown incidence rate and seems to be more prevalent when ecstasy is consumed in combination with heavy exercise at high ambient temperatures or when used in combination with other substances, including alcohol. Organized crime related to the production and trafficking of ecstasy in the Netherlands is a growing problem.<br/>Conclusions: This review provides a science-based summary that can be used to assist the public and political debate surrounding future Dutch ecstasy policy to reduce ecstasy-related organized crime while maintaining the principle of harm reduction.

Reference van Amsterdam, J., Ramaekers, J. G., Nabben, T., & van den Brink , W. (2021). Use characteristics and harm potential of ecstasy in The Netherlands. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy , 28(2), 107-117.
1 January 2021

Publication date

Jan 2021


Jan van Amsterdam
Johannes G. Ramaekers
Wim van den Brink

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