What are club drugs?
Club drugs are a group of drugs commonly found at parties, bars, nightclubs, and concerts. They are often used for the purpose of getting high and impair your judgment. Most forms of the drugs are illegal and can cause serious illness, injury, or even death. This can occur from one-time use, repeated use, or use with other substances, such as alcohol.
The main club drugs are:
- Flunitrazepam (roofies)
- GHB (liquid ecstasy)
- Ketamine (special K)
- LSD (acid)
- MDMA (ecstasy or molly)
- Methamphetamine (meth)
Club drugs contain a combination of agents that affect your brain and central nervous system. All of them can lead you to make choices or do things you wouldn’t 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 react.
- Hallucinogens affect your ability to think, feel, judge, and act. They make it hard to know what’s real or not. They can cause you to forget periods of time.
- Methamphetamines 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’re not safe. Club drugs that contain meth are very addictive. These drugs may be mixed or cut to include meth. These include GHB, ketamine, and flunitrazepam. They can cause severe, long-lasting symptoms and medical problems with repeated use.
Club drugs are often laced with other harmful chemicals, as well.
You should be careful not to consume club drugs. Most of them have no color, smell, or taste. They 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 blackout 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:
- Don’t accept drinks, food, or substances from other people. This includes strangers and people they don’t know very well.
- Don’t drink or eat anything they didn’t 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’s important to know when someone has taken drugs, either on purpose or by 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 club 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.
Buying club drugs and opioids on the internet and through social media has become increasingly easy for kids and young adults in recent years. Be aware of certain images, names and codes related to the sale of these drugs and talk to your doctor about what to look for.
Questions for your doctor
- Will I be addicted if I use club drugs once?
- 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.