Club drugs are a newer class of drugs that were initiated during the rave phenomenon and popular among teenagers and young adults. Many of these club drugs are also known as designer drugs because they are synthetic or man made as opposed to naturally occurring. Club drugs can be extremely dangerous resulting in aggressive behaviors, lowered inhibitions, short-term amnesia and even death in some cases. Ecstasy, 4-hydroxybutanoic acid (GHB), ketamine, rohypnol, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and methamphetamines are all commonly abused club drugs. Contrary to popular belief, club drugs can be addictive and withdrawal side effects can occur.
In general the overall effects of club drugs are the same however there are some differences among the specific club drugs and some have more severe side effects than others. Ecstasy, 4-hydroxybutanoic acid (GHB), ketamine, rohypnol, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and methamphetamines are all commonly abused club drugs and their acute effects are listed below:
After the immediate pleasurable effects have worn off, individuals will begin to experience unwanted side effects that can be extremely dangerous:
Ecstasy is formally known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine and is also known as MDMA, E, X and Molly. It is the most popular club drug and is known to elicit a false sense of empathy and closeness as well as euphoria and loss of inhibition. Ecstasy is man made and therefore can be laced with impurities resulting in many unknown side effects and according to studies approximately six percent of individuals 12 years or older in the United States have reported MDMA use at least once in their lifetime. Most fatalities related to ecstasy use have been related to hyperthermia and heatstroke.
Ketamine, commonly called special K, is used as a veterinary anesthetic and has no current use in human medicine. It is known as a dissociative drug meaning the individual ingesting this drug will become out of touch their own thoughts and identity and may even feel completely separated from their own body. Individuals can become psychologically addictive to this drug and will attempt to increase their frequency and dosage until they reach a state of dissociation.
GHB is often known as the “date rape” drug because this colorless and odorless substance is often slipped in drinks and parties and is known to cause extreme sedation and memory loss resulting in easy targets for sexual assault. GHB acts as a central nervous system depressant resulting in tranquility but also has stimulant properties such as euphoria and increased sex drive and therefore is also commonly used in the rave scene. GHB also has anabolic effects and is also used by body builders.
Rohypnol, formally called flunitrazepam, is an intermediate acting benzodiazepine and has no current medical use in the United States. It is known for its use as a “date rate” drug but is not as common as GHB. It causes similar effects as other club drugs and since it is a benzodiazepine it can be extremely addictive and the withdrawal effects can result in seizures and even death.
LSD is commonly known psychedelic drug used to increase sensation and is known to produce flashbacks and well as geometric hallucinations, flashes of color, moving light, impaired color perception and terrifying illusions. It is also know to produce synesthesia, which is a sensory crossover such as a visual image evoked by the hearing of sound. It is categorized as a hallucinogen as well as a club drug.
Methamphetamines are a general class of addictive and dangerous stimulants derived from amphetamines. They have no medicinal purposes and are often sold on the street under the names ice, speed, crank and crystal meth and have similar side effects to cocaine. Methamphetamines can be taken orally, intravenously snorted or inhaled and produces an immediate euphoric state. It is easily synthesized from common household products and is relatively inexpensive making this a popular street and club drug.