As the name would imply, club drugs (also referred to as party drugs) are substances used by young people at raves, clubs, parties, concerts, festivals, etc. Some of the most common club drugs include MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly), GHB, Rohypnol (Roofies), methamphetamine, LSD, and ketamine (Special K.)
Are they addictive? The short answer is yes, but it’s more complicated than that. To explain, club drugs include substances can be considered either depressants, stimulants or hallucinogens. Stimulants such as meth and other amphetamines have a high potential for addiction, as do depressants such as GHB and Rohypnol.
On the other hand, hallucinogens (i.e., LSD and ketamine) are not generally considered to be chemically addictive. That said, hallucinogens are substances that clearly have the potential for abuse. In this sense, they can be psychologically addictive and habit forming.
List of Club Drugs
MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly)
MDMA is perhaps the most commonly used substance in the club drugs category. It is unique in that it has both stimulant and hallucinogen effects, and does not appear to be chemically addictive. It invokes feelings of energy and euphoria but can have some dangerous and occasionally lethal side effects.
Adverse effects or complications due to MDMA include the following:
- Hyperthermia (abnormally increased body temperature)
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Muscle cramps
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Irregular heartbeat
- Kidney failure
- Heart failure
It is rare to overdose on MDMA, but it does happen. It is the combination of hyperthermia and dehydration that is widely considered to be the most dangerous. These two conditions can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney malfunction, especially if abused long-term.
GHB is categorized as a depressant but can cause stimulant effects at low doses. It also produces euphoria and sociability, not dissimilar to MDMA.
At higher doses, however, GHB’s depressive nature is revealed as the user begins to feel drowsy and experience visual and memory disturbances. For this reason, GHB is often used as a “date rape drug,” meaning that it is given to the user without their consent, and they become impaired to the point that they cannot resist sexual advances or remember what happened the next day.
GHB is a powerful depressant, and can, therefore, cause lethal complications especially when used with alcohol or other depressant drugs.
Symptoms of Overdose include the following:
- Slow or irregular breathing/heart rate
- Weak pulse
- Cold, clammy skin
- Severe drowsiness
- Bluish skin, lips, and/or fingernails (cyanosis)
- Loss of consciousness
Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), like GHB, is often used to facilitate sexual assaults. It is technically a benzodiazepine (i.e. Xanax) which is an anti-anxiety medication that falls into the category of depressant. Rohypnol, however, is several times stronger than other benzos, such as Valium.
Rohypnol results in effects similar to those of alcohol, and at high doses, can cause unconsciousness and partial amnesia, an effect lending to its popularly as a date rape drug. It can also lead to nausea and vomiting for several hours after ingestion.
Ketamine (Special K)
Ketamine is a hallucinogen with dissociative properties, meaning that its use can result in feelings of detachment from oneself and the external world (depersonalization and derealization.)
At lower doses, ketamine can produce sedation as well as a trance-like state. At higher doses, people can experience marked dissociation in addition to hallucinations (also referred to as a “K-hole.” Some experiencing this may appear to be awake but cannot respond or move. This state is dangerously close to an overdose and should be monitored closely.
LSD is a powerful hallucinogen that causes distortions in a person’s perceptions and sensations. While not addictive, chronic LSD use has been known to lead adverse experiences known as “bad trips” and result in effects such as the following:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Suicidal ideation
LSD is not used as often as other clubs as say, MDMA, but it commonly experienced through a group activity.
Meth is a synthetic drug with stimulant properties that can result in an intense rush of energy and talkativeness and similar effects that last for several hours. After the initial effects wear off, users experience a crash and often results in a long period of lethargy and sleepiness. Meth “binges” are common for this reason.
Research has found that chronic meth use can alter the structure of the brain and that significant cognitive and emotional problems can persist for month or years after meth use is ceased.
Side effects of meth use include the following:
- Itching and sore
- Dental hygiene problems
- Irregular heart rate
- Significant weight loss
- Increased body temperature
- Anxiety and panic
- Mood swings
- Violent behavior
- Hallucinations and delusions
What Is the Treatment for Club Drug Abuse and Dependence?
Drug addiction, unfortunately, often remains untreated. In fact, only about 1 in 10 people with a substance abuse disorder and less than half of those with a serious addiction ever seek treatment.
The primary goals of drug addiction treatment are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. At the beginning of the first phase (abstinence), sufferers should undergo a medically-assisted detox. This gives the patient access to around-the-clock care and medications that can relieve withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse (phase 2.)
After detox, most patients need therapy for the psychological addiction that also formed in conjunction with chemical dependence (phase 3.) People with less severe substance abuse problems or those who require flexibility can engage in our intensive outpatient program. This program is structured so that patients can receive comprehensive treatment and still to attend to personal responsibilities such as family, work, and school.
Those with more serious addictions are encouraged to participate in a residential (inpatient) treatment program. During this process, also known as rehab, patients live in the center 24/7 for a duration of at least 30 days while receiving around-the-clock medical care, therapy, counseling, and access to 12-step programs and complimentary approaches such as yoga and music and art therapy.
Many patient who graduate from inpatient treatment move on to outpatient treatment and take advantage of further support and therapy while they transition back to society. Outpatients can live in a private residence or approved sober living environment, in which case we offer transportation to and from therapy sessions at the center.
After intensive treatment has been completed, patients can benefit from aftercare planning services. Our aftercare planner works with the patient’s insurance company and helps the patient find long-term support outside of the center, such as psychiatric services and counseling.
Finally, our center offers alumni activities after graduation which foster peer support and facilitate ongoing recovery.