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Club Drugs

The term "club drugs" refers to a wide variety of drugs often used at all-night dance parties ("raves"), nightclubs and concerts. Club drugs can damage the neurons in the brain, impairing your senses, memory, judgment, and coordination. Different club drugs have different effects on the body. Some common effects include loss of muscle and motor control, blurred vision, and seizures. Club drugs like ecstasy are stimulants that increase heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to heart or kidney failure. Other club drugs, like GHB, are depressants that can cause drowsiness, unconsciousness, or breathing problems. Club drugs like GHB and Rohypnol are used in "date rape", and other assaults because they are sedatives that can make a person unconscious and immobilized. Rohypnol can cause a kind of amnesia-users may not remember what they said or did while under the effects of the drug.

What Are "Raves"?
"Raves" are high energy, all-night dances that feature hard pounding, techno-music and flashing laser lights. Raves are found in most metropolitan areas and, increasingly, in rural areas throughout the country. The parties are held in permanent dance clubs, abandoned warehouses, open fields, or empty buildings. Raves are commonly advertised as "alcohol free" parties with hired security personnel. Internet sites often advertise these events as "safe" and "drug free". However, raves are one of the most popular venues where "club drugs" are distributed. Numerous overdoses are documented at these events.
Rave promoters capitalize on the effects of club drugs. Bottled water and sports drinks are sold at Raves to manage hyperthermia and dehydration. Also found are pacifiers to prevent involuntary teeth clenching, menthol nasal inhalers, surgical masks, chemical lights, and neon glow sticks to increase sensory perception and enhance the Rave experience.

What Are Club Drugs?

1. Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) An amphetamine-based hallucinogenic type drug that is taken orally, usually in a table or capsule form.

Street names: Ecstasy, E, X, XTC, Adam, Clarity, Lover's Speed


  • Lasts 3-6 hours

  • Enables dancers to dance for long periods of time.

  • Increases the chances of dehydration, hypertension, heart or kidney failure, and increased body temperature, which can lead to death.

  • Long-term effects include confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, paranoia, and loss of memory.

2. Gamma-hydoxybutyrate (GHB) A central nervous system depressant that is usually ingested in liquid, powder, tablet, and capsule forms.

Street names: Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy


  • May last up to 4 hours, depending on the dose used.

  • Slows breathing and heart rates to dangerous levels.

  • Also has sedative and euphoric effects that begin up to 10-20 minutes from ingestion.

  • When used in connection with alcohol increases its potential for harm.

  • Overdose can occur quickly-sometimes death occurs.

3. Ketamine: An injectable anesthetic used primarily by veterinarians, found either in liquid form or a as a white powder that can be snorted or smoked, sometimes with marijuana.

Street names: Special K, K, Vitamin K, Cat Valium


  • Causes reactions similar to those of PCP, a hallucinatory drug.

  • Results in impaired attention, learning, and memory function. In larger doses, it may cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and depression.

4. Rohypnol: Tasteless and odorless sedative, easily soluble in carbonated beverages, with toxic effects that are aggravated by concurrent use of alcohol.

Street names: Roofies, Rophies, Roche, Forget-me Pill


  • Can cause anterograde amnesia, which contributes to Rohypnol's popularity as a "date rape" drug.

  • Can cause decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, and confusion.

5. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD): Hallucinogen that causes distortions in sensory perception, usually taken orally either in tablet or capsule form. Often sold on blotter paper that has been saturated with the drug.

Street names: Acid, Boomers, Yellow Sunshine


  • Are often unpredictable and may vary depending on dose, environment, and the user.

  • Causes dilated pupils, higher body temperature, increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, dry mouth, and tremors.

  • Can cause numbness, weakness, and nausea.

  • Long-term effects may include persistent psychosis and hallucinogenic persisting perception disorder, commonly known as "flashbacks".


Effects of stimulant club drugs, such as MDMA:

  • Increased heart rate

  • Convulsions

  • Extreme rise in body temperature

  • Uncontrollable movements

  • Insomnia

  • Impaired speech

  • Dehydration

  • High blood pressure

  • Grinding teeth

Effects of sedative/hallucinogenic club drugs, such as GHB, Ketamine, LSD, and Rohypnol:

  • Slow breathing

  • Decreased heart rate (except LSD)

  • Respiratory problems

  • Intoxication

  • Drowsiness

  • Confusion

  • Tremors

  • Nausea

Effects common to all club drugs can include

  • anxiety,

  • panic,

  • depression,

  • euphoria,

  • loss of memory,

  • hallucinations, and

  • psychotic behavior.

Drugs, traces of drugs, and drug paraphernalia are direct evidence of drug abuse. Pacifiers, menthol inhalers, surgical masks, and other such items could also be considered indicators.

Prevalence of Use

Links, a website from The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA),S provides information specific to club drugs.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) develops educational resources and materials on drugs of abuse.

The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information provides information on club drugs and other substances of abuse.

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Office of Applied Studies (OAS) provides the latest national data on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drug abuse.

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