If you or a loved one is using club drugs to loosen up or have a good time at parties, you may be wondering if there are any risks or side-effects to worry about. Unfortunately, even if you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid negative consequences so far, the risks are serious and real.
Read on to learn more about popular club drugs and their effects.
What Are Club Drugs?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines club drugs as those that “tend to be used by teenagers and young adults in bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties.” Club drugs are illegal and typically include Ecstasy, GHB, ketamine, Rohypnol, LSD (acid), and methamphetamine.
People use these drugs to “enhance” their experience at a club or rave in a variety of ways. Some drugs are used to elevate one’s mood or heighten physical energy and self-confidence. Others may be used to decrease appetite or spark desired sensations or emotions. In some cases, club drugs are quietly administered to a friend or stranger to be used as a date rape drug.
Some people can use club drugs on occasion without seeing any obvious negative consequences—perhaps you have been one of those people. However, these drugs do come with potential side effects and risks that could ruin your night or affect the rest of your life. For example, in addition to the risks associated with individual drugs, many of these substances lower users’ inhibitions, increasing the likelihood that they will engage in unprotected sex or other high-risk activities.
Read on to learn about the risks and effects of popular club drugs and how you can avoid the serious consequences associated with them.
The Effects and Risks of Ecstasy
Ecstasy and Molly are the common names for MDMA (which stands for 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, so you can see why people prefer abbreviations and street names). These drugs are often used in club environments because they alter the user’s mood and perceptions.
Typically swallowed as a capsule, tablet, or liquid or snorted as a powder, Ecstasy can produce desirable feelings of heightened pleasure and energy or distorted perceptions of time and the senses—which can come in handy for maintaining energy throughout an all-night rave.
This drug isn’t all fun and games, however. Health effects can include nausea, muscle cramps, blurred vision, chills, and sweating. After using Ecstasy, a person can continue to experience irritability, impulsiveness, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, and more for about a week. In high doses, this substance can affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature, which could result in organ failure or death.
The Effects and Risks of GHB
While Ecstasy is a drug that teens and young adults may take to affect their own perceptions and experiences, GHB is commonly used as a date rape drug that affects the perceptions, experiences, and safety of others.
GHB is a depressant that can cause euphoria, drowsiness (“daytime sleep attacks”), hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, and unconsciousness. People may sneak this into others’ drinks in order to take advantage of them once these side effects take place, which can lead to sexual assault or rape.
Additional health risks include seizures, difficulty breathing, slowed heart rate, lower body temperatures, coma, and even death. Some side effects become even more prevalent when the drug is taken in combination with alcohol, which is common when used as a date rape drug.
The Effects and Risks of Ketamine
Ketamine’s street names, such as Vitamin K and Special K, may make this drug seem harmless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This substance can be injected, snorted, smoked, or swallowed. Some users take it themselves, because the hallucinogen makes them feel detached from reality. Others slip it to those around them as a date rape drug.
While the dreamlike hallucinations may seem desirable to some, the possible health effects far outweigh any benefit. Difficulty paying attention, confusion, problems speaking, memory loss, difficulty moving, increased blood pressure, unconsciousness, and slowed breathing (even to the point of death) are all short-term risks of this club drug. Long-term health effects include bladder ulcers and pain, kidney problems, stomach pain, depression, and poor memory.
As with many drugs, alcohol only increases the risk of these dangerous side effects. Those who inject ketamine also face the risk of infectious disease (like HIV or hepatitis) from shared needles.
The Effects and Risks of Rohypnol
Rohypnol has a long list of street names, many of which hint at its use as a date rape drug (think Forget-Me Pill, Mind Eraser, Roofies, and more). Because this drug can easily be dissolved in a drink, partygoers should keep a close eye on their beverages to avoid accidental ingestion of this substance.
Rophynol typically causes drowsiness, sedation, amnesia, impaired mental functioning, confusion, and blackout—side effects that make it easy to take advantage of someone under its influences. When combined with alcohol (as it commonly is), this club drug can lead to unconsciousness and slowed heart rate and breathing, which can even lead to death.
The withdrawal symptoms aren’t too pleasant either; that list includes headaches, muscle pain, anxiety, confusion, irritability, hallucinations, seizures, and more.
The Effects and Risks of LSD
People have used hallucinogens to alter their perceptions, thoughts, and feelings for centuries. LSD, also known as acid, is one of the most powerful drugs in this mood-changing category and is commonly used by club-goers to spark hallucinations.
LSD can be swallowed as a tablet, pill, or liquid or can be absorbed through the lining in the mouth using drug-soaked paper pieces. The effects of these drugs are unpredictable. You may have used these without negative the consequence in the past yet experience serious side effects the next time you do so.
For example, you may experience a euphoric high that makes you feel out of touch with reality the first time you use LSD—only to experience extreme terror the next time you try the drug. In addition to these unpredictable delusions, side effects include dilated pupils, difficulty regulating body temperature, increased or decreased blood pressure and heart rate, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, tremors, and more.
The Effects and Risks of Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine, commonly known as crystal meth, is an extremely addictive and dangerous drug, even when taken in small doses. This drug sparks a rush of dopamine in the brain—the chemical your body produces in moments of pleasure or reward. The euphoria that a user experiences can be highly addictive, and when it fades quickly, users commonly take more and more of the drug to experience repeated highs.
Both the short- and long-term effects of methamphetamine are dangerous and uncomfortable. Short-term effects include faster breathing, an irregular heartbeat, and an increase in blood pressure and body temperature. Long-term consequences can include dental problems, weight loss, intense itching, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Users, especially those who “binge and crash,” are also at risk of overdose, which can result in stroke, heart attack, organ failure, and death.
Get Treatment for Club Drug Abuse
If you or a loved one is abusing or addicted to club drugs, it may be time to seek help. Remember that the health effects and risks of these substances are real, and the only real way to avoid overdose is to break free of addiction.