Magic mushroom droplets increasingly popular recreational drug in Amsterdam's nightlife
Magic mushroom droplets are becoming increasingly popular in Amsterdam’s nightlife crowd. Many partiers prefer the psychedelic drug to alcohol, especially with inflation pushing up drink prices.
This new psychedelic drug on the market in the Netherlands, called "paddodruppels" in Dutch, consists of a liquid substance made from the extract of psilocybin, the main active chemical in magic mushrooms and truffles. Psilocybin-based mushrooms are considered hard drugs under List 1 of the Opium Act in the Netherlands.
Because magic mushroom droppers are illegal and production is unregulated, the precise content remains unknown. “Nobody knows exactly what's inside,” said Peter* (25) to NL Times, a regular user living in Amsterdam. “But the effects are very nice.”
Peter explained that one drop is enough to give "a feeling of euphoria,” while two to three might make someone trip much harder. But he warned that “it is different for everyone.”
Tom Bart of the addiction institute Jellinek told NPO3 that the effects of the drug are similar to those of magic mushrooms and truffles, and it is known to cause hallucinations. He explained it can be difficult to determine the exact number of drops needed as the potency varies. Sometimes, just one drop can be sufficient to experience euphoria and enhanced perception of colors.
Because production is unregulated, it is hard to measure a correct dosage. "Some producers are very precise and conduct research well, but you can't expect that from every producer,” said Bart. “But we still know very little about it." Therefore, caution should be exercised while using this drug, he said.
The drug is usually sold in small bottles and costs between 120 and 150 euros in the Netherlands. The bottles contain around 130 drops, according to Peter. His bottle was delivered directly to his home and came with instructions. “You need to spend a lot of money all at once, but once you have it, you can keep it for a long time.” Since only a few drops are necessary to reach the desired effect, it is cheaper than other drugs. "One euro for one drop." He understands that people might use it instead of alcohol.
“And you don't get a hangover the day after," he remarked. Peter explained that most people use it as a party drug to go clubbing. This is not without risk. "It can be pretty intense with so many people," he admitted.
Michiel van Elk, a neuroscientist at the University of Leiden, told Het Parool that there is a real risk of psychosis or a bad trip. "Using psychedelics in a party environment is definitely not an ideal setting. It can trigger anxiety and it's often difficult to find a calm and peaceful space."
Jordy, another regular user, told AT5 that this drug is not always the best for clubbing. "Especially if you are really dancing in the club with bright lights in the crowd. But you have to dose it right." For him, mushroom drops have become an alternative to other drugs and alcohol. "It does not give you a hangover, and the drops make you less intense.” The Amsterdam broadcaster also spoke to others who like truffle drops for a night out, though said it made them feel less social and somewhat strange.
What is clear is that their popularity in Amsterdam is growing. “It’s a new hype,” said Peter. When he bought it for the first time last December “it was still underground, but now everyone knows it and uses it.”
Tom Bart remains wary of calling it a trend. “We still have fairly few reports coming in, which initially means that this drug is not very dangerous or addictive. Also, I don’t think the 'mushroom drops trend' is really serious.”
All smart shops in Amsterdam who spoke with NL Times were aware of the existence of this new psychedelic drug. “We know it is out there, but we don’t really know what it is,” a representative of one of them said.
The sale of magic mushrooms containing psilocybin has been forbidden since 2008. However, due to a legal loophole, the ban did not outlaw psychoactive mushroom species in the form of truffle – the fungus that grows underground beneath the mushroom – which has led to the widespread sale of these “magic truffles” in smart shops in the Netherlands.
“I guess these drops will be legal at some point,” said another smart store seller. “Then we might even sell it.”
Bart recommended that those who use psychadelics do so in a quiet setting, like at home on the couch. Taking it in a nightlife setting can be risky, he told AT5 in another interview. “The environment is different. More lights, more people, loud music… But you’ve probably slept less yourself, you’re dancing, and so your energy level is lower. That can increase the risk. The experience can be more intense. You are more likely to become overstimulated or anxious.”
Magic mushroom drops will likely also become more common in the festival scene this year. With inflation pushing up ticket prices, many festival goers plan to cut costs on food and drinks by using more drugs. In general, Bart recommended that people let their friends know what drugs they are using so if a situation gets grim, the friends can provide assistance or inform medical personnel.
Peter believes more awareness is maybe a good thing so that people use it correctly. "But it should not be labeled too much fun.” While he has personally never had a bad experience while using the drug, he has seen friends feeling unwell and or experiencing a bad trip because they did not dose it correctly.
“It’s just not for everyone,” he remarked.
* His identity has been changed for privacy reasons.