What Are Club Drugs?
Club drugs, also known as party or designer drugs, are psychoactive substances that affect a person’s behavior by changing their sense of perception and altering their mood. These drugs, which are odorless, colorless, and flavorless, are mostly used by adolescents and young adults at bars, concerts, nightclubs, and parties. Despite their recent popularity, the history of club drugs dates back to the 1980s.
Many people believe that club drugs first were used in the rave scene in England, which later became popular in the United States. Raves are all-night dance parties held on short notice at inconspicuous locations like warehouses or abandoned properties. Raves are also known for overwhelming the senses with ear-pounding music and bright, flashing lights.
Today, people use club drugs at other places, too, including social events where they want to experience psychoactive sensations and hallucinogenic experiences.
The Most Common Club Drugs
Even though the list of club drugs continues to grow every year, the most commonly used club drugs include:
- MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also called Ecstasy and Molly. Since MDMA has stimulant and hallucinogenic properties, the drug makes a person’s emotions — both positive and negative — more intense. The drug can also cause hallucinations. Most people use MDMA because they think the drug will make them feel a sense of pleasure or energize them for days, but using MDMA has some dangerous side effects. In addition to increasing heart rate, MDMA can cause blurred vision, chills, anxiety, confusion, and paranoia.
- GHB, also known as G and Liquid Ecstasy. Gamma Hydroxybutyrate is a clear liquid that causes a euphoric high and hallucinations while slowing down activity in the central nervous system. Consuming GHB can also cause drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and vision changes. The substance can also cause people to pass out, stop breathing, and go into a coma.
- Ketamine, also known as K and Special K. Ketamine is a fast-acting anesthetic that can be legally used on both humans as a sedative and animals as a tranquilizer. Even though ketamine is legal, high doses of the substance can cause intoxication and hallucinations. The high or trip, also known as the “K-hole,” can last up to 2 hours. Some people who use ketamine become delirious and lose their sense of time and reality.
- LSD (Lysergic acid), also known as Acid. LSD is a hallucinogen that can alter the sense of space, distance, and time. LSD can change people’s senses so much that they think they can see sounds and hear colors. The substance can also cause strange feelings and strong emotions such as panic, confusion, and sadness.
- PCP (Phencyclidine). Even though low doses of PCP can produce effects similar to alcohol intoxication, this substance is known for producing dissociative and out-of-body experiences. PCP produces these effects by distorting sight, sound, and reality, giving users a false sense of strength, power, and invincibility. But this perceived strength is often a hallucination. Extremely high doses of PCP can cause anxiety, delusions, paranoia, bizarre behavior, suicidal thoughts, and violence.
- Methamphetamine, also known as meth. This substance produces a euphoric high that lets people stay awake for long periods of time. At first, people who abuse methamphetamine feel high and full of energy, but repeatedly using meth can severely damage the brain and body. Side effects can include increased blood pressure, blurred vision, dry mouth, hot flashes, irregular heart rates, and cardiovascular challenges.
- Mescaline or peyote. Mescaline naturally occurs in cacti plants native to Mexico, South America, and the southwest region of the United States. When consumed, mescaline can cause anxiety, a rapid heartbeat, tremors, and psychosis.
- Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as shrooms. Even though most people use psilocybin mushrooms to experience a peaceful high, consuming shrooms often causes anxiety, frightening hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion. Other side effects can include a distorted sense of time and place, nervousness, and panicked reactions.
Even though each club drug affects individuals differently, they can all have dangerous side effects. In fact, one of the most hazardous club drugs, Rohypnol, has become known as a “date rape drug.”
- Rohypnol, also known as Roofies. Since Rohypnol can cause extreme drowsiness, many countries sell the drug as a sleeping pill. The substance is illegal in the United States. The drug, which is approximately ten times more potent than Valium, can also cause a loss of muscle control, confusion, drowsiness, and amnesia. Some people even describe the drug’s effects as paralyzing. About 30 minutes after consumption, Rohypnol can make people so incapacitated that they collapse on the floor, able to observe events but unable to move. Sadly, even after the effects wear off, many people who used Rohypnol have impaired memory.
Why Are Club Drugs So Dangerous?
All addictive substances can be dangerous, but club drugs can be especially harmful because:
- People often mix them with alcohol. Consuming club drugs and alcohol simultaneously increases the risk of dehydration and overdose. When the liver metabolizes alcohol, the organ can’t effectively metabolize club drugs simultaneously. When this happens, club drugs remain in the body for a more extended period, increasing the likelihood of negative side effects. These adverse effects can include:
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated body temperature
- Club drugs producers lace their drugs with potentially harmful substances. Many manufacturers of club drugs lace their products with fentanyl and other toxic substances. They do this to strengthen club drugs and their effects, which caters to users who desire a more intense high. But the makers of club drugs also benefit from this process. More potent drugs cost more. Sadly, the desire to increase the bottom line also increases users’ risk of adverse effects, overdose, and in some cases, death.
- Club drugs can increase the risk of sexual assault. Unfortunately, sexual assault is often prevalent in places where people use club drugs. Two specific club drugs, Rohypnol and GHB, have become known as “date rape” drugs. Often, perpetrators add these drugs to an individual’s drink without their knowledge. Not long after consuming the drug, the individual becomes unconscious or unaware of where they are, making them a target for sexual assault.
- Negative side effects. Regardless of what type of club drug a person takes, consuming these substances can increase the risk of developing short and long-term health challenges. Some club drugs can trigger a spike in body temperature that can cause cardiovascular, kidney, or liver failure. Other club drugs have a high risk of overdose. Individuals can have an allergic or toxic reaction to substances.
Short-Term Effects Of Club Drugs
Even though each club drug produces unique effects, many have similar short-term effects on the body. These effects include:
- Changes to the brain. Not long after people consume them, club drugs start to damage the brain’s neurons, impairing individuals’ senses, memory, coordination, and judgment. An inability to remember can lead to confusion and anxiety, triggering insomnia. A lack of sleep can also lead to increased feelings of depression.
- Changes to the body. Club drugs’ physical side effects include loss of muscle and motor control, blurred vision, chills or excessive sweating, slurred speech, loss of coordination, dizziness, fainting, increased blood pressure, and seizures.
Club drugs can also have short-term effects on an individual’s self-control. Sedatives like GHB and Rohypnol can immobilize individuals and leave them unconscious. These club drugs can also cause users to forget what they said or did while under the influence of these substances.
Other common side effects of club drugs can include:
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
- Feeling paranoid
- Acting aggressively
Long-Term Effects of Club Drugs
When used for an extended period, club drugs can have devastating effects on the body. These effects can include:
- Toxicity in the brain
- Brain damage
- Extreme anxiety
- Heart palpitations and complications
- Liver and kidney failure
- Impaired memory and cognitive functioning
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nerve damage
- Kidney failure
Club drugs can also have a significant impact on individuals’ mental health.
Club Drugs’ Impact On Mental Health
Abusing substances like club drugs can deplete naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. When this happens, the risk of an individual developing a mental health disorder increases. Club drugs like MDMA and LSD can negatively affect individuals’ mental health soon after they start using the substances. The effects can be short- or long-term.
Some of the most common short-term effects club drugs have on mental health include:
- Enhanced sensory perception
- Mild hallucinations
Generally, the effects don’t continue if an individual stops using club drugs. But if they choose to continue using club drugs, these challenges can worsen over time. In other words, long-term abuse of party drugs can result in long-term mental health challenges.
Some of the most common long-term mental health effects of club drugs include:
- Confusion that lasts for an extended time
- Difficulties with attention span that causes symptoms similar to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Moderate to severe depression
- Poor memory
- Anxiety disorders
Understanding Club Drug Addiction
Even though they’re incredibly dangerous, an addiction to club drugs doesn’t happen overnight. Becoming dependent on club drugs happens in various stages. Often, the experience starts with casual “party use.” The first casual use of club drugs is called initiation. From there, the stages of addiction include regular use, abuse, increased tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Fully understanding each stage of club drug addiction helps reveal what club drug addiction is and how it develops.
- Initiation. Initiation happens when an individual tries a club drug for the first time. Unfortunately, many people in America experience club drug initiation before they reach adulthood. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that most club drug users try their substance of choice during their teenage years and are diagnosed with a substance use disorder by 20 years old. But initiation doesn’t automatically mean someone will develop an addiction. They have to start using club drugs regularly before they become addicted.
- Regular club drug use. Using club drugs has become a normal part of an individual’s life during this stage. In addition to using club drugs to party, individuals might use substances to cope with the stress and challenges of everyday life. Some people might even feel like life isn’t as comfortable or satisfying without club drugs. Instead of using club drugs periodically, individuals start using club drugs as a part of their everyday routine.
- Club drug abuse. Once individuals develop the habit of using club drugs regularly, many of them start abusing the substances solely for the sake of experiencing intense euphoria and pleasure. At this point, individuals have a consistent desire to get high, which is a sign of abuse.
- Increased tolerance. As individuals continue to use club drugs, their brains adjust to the presence of the addictive substances. When this happens, the brain begins to function as though club drugs are an essential part of its biochemical makeup. At this point, the individual has developed a tolerance for the substance. Once the brain develops a tolerance for club drugs, the substances don’t affect the brain the same way. At this point, individuals have to consume more club drugs to experience any euphoric effects.
- Dependence. When people become dependent on a club drug, they need a constant supply of the substance to feel normal. If individuals do not satisfy this need, their brain experiences an intense physical reaction causing withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings.
- Club drug addiction. When individuals develop an addiction to club drugs, they compulsively use them despite adverse consequences. Their brains have become hard-wired to seek out the club drugs and their euphoric effects. Even if individuals desire to quit using club drugs, they will likely continue to use them.
Signs of Club Drug Addiction
Even after understanding how a substance use disorder can develop, recognizing an addiction to club drugs can be challenging. Fortunately, being able to identify the signs and symptoms of addiction can help.
Early signs of club drug addiction include:
- Unexplained bruises
- Forgetfulness or being unable to remember what happened at a party or club
- Neglecting responsibilities in order to go out instead
- Unusual levels of intoxication
Sometimes, signs of drug abuse can vary from substance to substance. Signs of stimulant addiction (i.e., MDMA and methamphetamine), for example, include:
- High blood pressure
- Twitching and muscle spasms
- Increased body temperature
- Teeth grinding
- Impaired speech
Individuals addicted to depressants such as GHB and Rohypnol often experience:
- Respiratory troubles
- Slowed, labored breathing
- Frequent drowsiness
- Decreased heart rate
People addicted to hallucinogens such as LSD and ketamine may display signs that include:
- Unexpected mood swings
- Sudden change in personality
- Blurred vision
- Erratic behavior
- Rambling speech
Even though spotting and recognizing these signs and symptoms can be unnerving, the good news is that treatment programs can help people overcome club drug addiction.
Treatment For Club Drug Addiction
Addiction treatment usually occurs in three distinct stages: detoxification, addiction treatment, and aftercare.
During detoxification, the body metabolizes all the addictive substances in an individual’s system. As the brain struggles to adjust to life without club drugs, many people experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and can be managed with medication if necessary. Once the brain has stabilized and can function on its own without club drugs, individuals can begin addiction treatment.
Club Drug Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment helps individuals identify the root causes of their club drug addiction and teaches healthy coping strategies. We provide outpatient treatment programs, allowing individuals to live at home and travel back and forth to our facility for treatment sessions. These sessions offer clinical support, which includes:
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual and group counseling
- Peer support groups
After treatment ends, aftercare support begins. This support can include employment assistance, referrals, follow-up meetings, and help with continuing education.
Real Recovery For Real People
Anyone can develop an addiction to club drugs. But hope isn’t lost. Addiction is a treatable condition, and here at Meta, we pride ourselves on providing real recovery for real people. Our flexible outpatient treatment programs can help you live a thriving, sober life. Contact us today if you’re ready to say goodbye to club drugs for good. We’re here to help you begin or continue your sobriety journey.