What are club drugs?
Club drugs are a group of drugs that are commonly found at parties, bars, nightclubs, and concerts. Most forms of the drugs are illegal and can cause serious illness or injury. In some cases, club drug use can lead to death. This can occur from one use, repeated use, or use with other substances, such as alcohol.
The main club drugs are:
- GHB (liquid ecstasy)
- MDMA (ecstasy)
- flunitrazepam (roofies)
- ketamine (special K)
- LSD (acid).
Club drugs contain a combination of agents that affect your brain and nervous system. All of them can lead you to make choices or do things that you would not otherwise do.
- Stimulants make you excitable. They can cause you to feel open, aroused, and unafraid.
- Depressants slow your nervous system and affect your ability to physically and mentally react.
- Hallucinogens affect your ability to think, feel, judge, and act. They make it hard to know what is real or not. They can cause you to forget periods of time.
- Methamphetamines (meth) are stimulants that cause excitement. They can make you hyper, anxious, or paranoid.
Path to safety
Some people choose to use club drugs. Although most club drugs look like prescription medicines, they are not safe. Club drugs that contain meth are very addictive. They may be mixed or cut to include meth. These include GHB, ketamine, and flunitrazepam. They can cause severe, long-lasting symptoms with repeated use.
You should take great caution not to consume club drugs. Most of them have no color, smell, or taste, and can easily be slipped into drinks and food. Some types, including GHB and flunitrazepam, often are used as date-rape drugs. A small amount can cause a person to black out, or become unconscious.
Teenagers and young adults are more often victims of date rape. Talk with your children about the dangers of club drugs. They can help prevent someone giving them drugs by doing the following.
- Do not accept drinks, food, or substances from other people. This includes strangers and people they do not know very well.
- Do not drink or eat anything they did not open themselves.
- Keep drinks with them and in their sight at all times.
- Watch their friends’ drinks.
Everyone reacts differently to club drugs. Symptoms vary depending on the person, the drug, and the dose of the drug. Side effects often appear 10 to 20 minutes after use. They can include:
- blurred vision
- loss of muscle control
- changes in heart rate and blood pressure
- trouble breathing
- aggressive behavior
- impaired memory and judgment
- loss of consciousness
It is important to know when someone has taken drugs, either on purpose or accident. Look for any of the side effects listed above. Club drugs also can cause people to overheat. If a friend looks too hot or feels weak or sick, get them to a cool, quiet place as soon as you can. If the person is thirsty, give them a sports drink instead of water. If they vomit, lose consciousness, or have seizures, get medical help right away.
Alert a manager, security person, or law official if you suspect someone is trying to give you or a friend a date rape drug.
Things to consider
Club drugs can go by a lot of alternative or secret names. If it sounds bad or made up, it probably is. Some drugs are legal for certain health problems. However, you should never take any drugs that are not part of a prescription.
Questions to ask your doctor
- If I use club drugs once will I be addicted?
- How do I recognize club drugs?
- What should I do if I think I have been given a date-rape drug or have been date raped?
- What treatment options are available if I’m addicted to a club drug?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.