A club drug is any drug that is popular among teens and commonly found in places where young people congregate, such as night clubs, bars, concerts, raves and parties (National Institute on Drug Abuse). It is likely that people who frequent these social settings may come into contact with any number of these drugs, whether they seek them out or not. Club drugs don’t necessarily share any of the same properties, uses or effects, so each should be examined individually to get a full understanding of the dangers.
Popularly called ecstasy or molly, MDMA is a psychoactive drug that can cause feelings of euphoria, energy and heightened sensory stimulation. It is a common party drug that gained major popularity at large-scale dance parties called raves, though it’s now found in a wide variety of settings. The drug is commonly taken in a capsule or tablet, and often combined with other drugs, which increases the danger. An MDMA high can last several hours, though abusers will typically string doses together. While research is inconclusive on whether the drug is addictive, it is known to cause chemical dependence and withdrawals. The biggest health risk posed by the drug is dangerously elevated body temperature, which can result in death from kidney, liver or heart failure.
Colloquially known as cat valium, vitamin k and special k, ketamine is a dissociative drug that is intended for use as a veterinary anesthetic. Ketamine looks like a white powder or liquid and is typically injected, though it is occasionally used as a date rape drug. Whether used intentionally or not, it can cause hallucinations, dizziness, nausea and feelings of being detached (or “dissociated”) from the self. Moderate doses can cause sedation, immobility and amnesia, while particularly high doses can cause terrifying sensations similar to a near-death experience. Long-term use and addiction can cause problems in the bladder, kidneys and stomach as well as memory issues and depression.
Rohypnol is the brand name of flunitrazepam, a prescription sleep aid that is not legal for medical use in the United States. The drug is sometimes abused to achieve drowsiness, but its primary purpose is for use as a date rape drug. Street names for the drug include “roofies” and simply “the date rape drug.” Rohypnol comes in pill form, but it is typically crushed into powder and secretly dissolved in someone’s beverage. This is particularly dangerous, because the drug can cause extreme drowsiness and even death when combined with alcohol.
GHB is prescription medication intended for the treatment of narcolepsy. It is sold in pill form and can produce feelings of euphoria and excitement, though it can also cause anxiety, nausea and drowsiness, giving it a secondary use as a date rape drug. Like Rohypnol, it is produced as a pill, but can be crushed into a powder and dissolved in a beverage without a person’s knowledge. Often called Grievous Bodily Harm, the drug is extremely dangerous. Its effects can drastically slow down the heart and result in death, especially when combined with alcohol.
Club drugs pose a wide variety of health risks and should be treated very seriously. If you or someone you know has developed a problem with club drugs or any other substance, call the Arizona Drug Addiction Helpline for information on treatment options.