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What Are Club Drugs?

How Dangerous Are Club Drugs?

Nearly all club drugs contain a combination of chemicals that affect the brain and nervous system. Club drugs are capable of damaging neurons in the brain impairing senses, memory, judgment, and coordination. Despite the misconception that because club drugs are prescription they are safe, they can be addictive when misused. Although most club drugs appear to be prescription medication, they are unsafe due to the fact that most are manufactured in illegal, makeshift, laboratories. Making it nearly impossible to tell exactly what they are made of. The club drug scene is constantly changing, new drugs and variations of old ones appear all the time. If mixed with other substances, like alcohol, club drugs can produce random and, at times, dangerous side effects. Certain club drugs can be laced with other substances like meth, which can also make them highly addictive. With repeated use, club drugs like GHB, ketamine, and Rohypnol can cause severe, long-lasting symptoms and damage. It can also be difficult to identify club drugs as most of them have no color, taste, or smell and can easily be mixed into food or drink. These drugs also go by a lot of alternative or secret names, making them even harder to identify. Sometimes club drugs like Rohypnol are referred to as “date rape” drugs. Rohypnol, or “roofies,” can limit a person’s ability to say no or physically remove themselves from unwanted sexual advances. Large doses of club drugs can result in severe breathing problems, coma and even death at times.

What Are Club Drugs?

Club drugs can be broken down into three basic groups: stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. This mixed group of drugs can include the following:

  • methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as Ecstasy XTC, X, E, Adam, Molly, Hug Beans, and Love Drug
  • gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), also known as G, Liquid Ecstasy, and Soap
  • ketamine, also known as Special K, K, Vitamin K, and Jet
  • Rohypnol, also known as Roofies
  • methamphetamine, also known as Speed, Ice, Chalk, Meth, Crystal, Crank, and Glass
  • lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), also known as Acid, Blotter, and Dots

Signs And Symptoms Of Club Drug Use

At times it can be difficult to tell if someone is using club drugs or not. Different types of club drugs can cause different reactions in each individual. In general, if someone is showing signs of one or more of the following it is likely that they are using club drugs.


Some examples of stimulant club drugs include amphetamines and MDMA. They interact with the body’s central nervous system (CNS) and increase the amount of dopamine (the happy chemical) in the brain. This rush of happy chemicals produces the “high” effect. Some short-term effects of stimulants can include:

  • jaw clenching or teeth grinding
  • increase heart rate with decrease blood pressure
  • loss of appetite
  • fast, difficult to understand talking
  • excess amounts of energy

Over time, the brain can develop a tolerance to the increased level of dopamine which makes the person crave more of the drugs that produce the rush. This can lead to strong cravings for the drug. When large amounts of stimulants are consumed often, excess stress is put on the heart muscle. This can lead to increase pulse, rapid breathing, and, at times, heart failure. Long-term use of stimulants may cause some to have hallucinations, hear voices that aren’t there, feel paranoid, and develop psychosis. It is also possible for people to become violent and act in an unpredictable manner. Other long-term effects of stimulants may include:

  • insomnia
  • physical exhaustion
  • dizziness or blurred vision
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite leading to malnutrition
  • depression, anxiety, and paranoia
  • damage to teeth
  • extreme mood swings



A few examples of depressant club drugs include GHB and Rohypnol. Both work to slow down brain activity and produce a relaxed, sleepy, and calming sensation. GHB and Rohypnol are banned in the U.S. so, they are most likely illegally manufactured and may be laced with other chemicals or substances. This can potentially make them more dangerous because their contents are unknown. Small doses of these depressants can cause drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and problems with short-term memory. Depressant intoxication can look similar to alcohol intoxication. Typically effects can be felt within 10 to 20 minutes of taking the drug and can last for up to four hours. Some short-term effects of depressants can include:

  • headaches
  • confusion
  • slurred speech
  • lack of control over limbs
  • tremors
  • nightmares

Even though Rohypnol has a reputation as the date rape drug some people still use it thinking that it will produce a high. After a while, a tolerance can develop to these drugs causing the need for a larger dose to produce the same effect. Although not all long-term effects are still unknown, some that have been noted include:

  • trouble sleeping
  • breathing problems
  • depression and other mental issues
  • memory problems
  • impaired sexual dysfunction


PCP and Ketamine are both examples of hallucinogenic club drugs. These are fast-acting and powerful anesthetics, originally meant for animals and humans during surgery. However, PCP use was discontinued in 1965, and is now illegal in the U.S., because of the troubling side effects it produced. Shortly after taking hallucinogens people can experience a dream-like state or have hallucinations. PCP, in particular, affect a person’s memory, ability to process emotions, and learning ability. It is known for inducing a false sense of strength, and make some feel invincible. Ketamine, on the other hand, can cause a terrifying sense of detachment from one’s self that may feel like a near-death experience. The duration of time effect of each drug is different for both of these hallucinogens, but both can affect a person’s coordination and judgment for up to 24 hours after the last dose. Some short-term effects of these hallucinogens may include:

  • Delirium
  • Amnesia
  • Lack of control over one’s body
  • Body numbness
  • Drooling
  • Slurred speech
  • Excessive sweating
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing and other respiratory problems

PCP is dangerous as too large a dose can lead to seizures, coma, and possibly death. Not much is known about the long-term effects of ketamine. Although it has been shown to impact a person’s ability to learn and remember things after being used for a while. Both PCP and ketamine are considered to be addictive. Long-term use of these drugs can lead to physical cravings for the drug. It is possible to have flashbacks of previous highs and even when someone quits PCP, the effects of the drug can be felt for up to a year later.

Avoiding Club Drugs

The best weapon against club drugs is knowledge. Knowing the common names for these drugs alone will help in avoiding them. Club drugs are dangerous because there are many of them and they often get mixed with other substances making the reactions unpredictable. If you would like to know more about club drugs and how to recognize their use, contact us at Vertava Health.