Club Drugs and Their Effects
These are the drugs normally classed as club drugs.
There are several other synthetics substances that may be fraudulently sold as Ecstasy or that may be abused in a club environment, either in the US or other countries. These drugs include:
- Piperazines like BZP and TFMPP
- Mephedrone (mostly outside the US)
- bk-MDMA (methylene)
Ecstasy is the most popular drug in this class. It is referred to as an empathogen or entactogen. These two terms are used interchangeably to describe a drug that creates artificial feelings of empathy. In other words, they make a person feel deeply close to someone else that they may have just met.
Ecstasy is usually handed out in small coloured pills that are often stamped with a logo or character’s image. These may be loose or enclosed in a blister pack. Ecstasy also comes in a crystal or powdered form and occasionally a liquid.
- Greater enjoyment of dancing
- Distortions of perceptions, particularly light, music and touch
- Artificial feelings of empathy and emotional warmth
- Increased body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate
- Threat of dehydration
- Increased energy
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of fatigue when it would be normal
- Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
- Muscle cramping
After Ecstasy’s immediate effects have worn off, some people, especially heavy users, complain of:
- Lack of appetite
- Less interest in or pleasure from sex
- Problems sleeping
- Aggressive behaviour
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor memory
- Drug cravings
Effects of Ecstasy usually last between three and six hours although it is common for people to take more as the effects start to wear off so they can continue the experience.
Because Ecstasy is a strong stimulant, it makes a person’s body overactive. Without sufficient cooling and water, it is easy for an Ecstasy user to overheat after dancing the night away. Some nightclubs have chilling rooms that are highly air conditioned, that also sell cold water. Some Ecstasy users know that they need to stay hydrated and cooled. When Ecstasy is combined with alcohol, as it often is, the tendency for dehydration is even more pronounced.
An Ecstasy overdose can also make a person overheat. A person’s temperature can soar to 109 degrees F (42.8 degrees Celsius) or even higher if they have overdosed on Ecstasy. This high temperature causes organ failure and death. An overdose can also cause seizures and fainting.
One of the effects of Ecstasy is addiction. Some people will begin by using Ecstasy on the weekends, but after a period of use, find themselves deeply depressed in the middle of the week. They may make it to the weekend before using more but then finally start using Ecstasy daily to try to lift the depression. They are now addicted.
Ecstasy nicknames: Ecstasy, E, X, XTC, the Hug Drug, Love Drug, Disco Biscuit, Adam, Clarity, Lover’s Speed, rolldogs, E-tarts, Scooby Snacks. Crystalline or powder Ecstasy is called Molly
One of the problems with abuse of Ecstasy is that few of the pills sold as Ecstasy contain only this drug. They may be diluted or adulterated with MDA, PMA, ketamine, PCP, dextromethorphan, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine or caffeine. Some pills may contain no Ecstasy at all.
While it might seem harmless to include caffeine in one of these pills, if a person takes caffeine with methamphetamine, it is easier for them to become overheated to a life-threatening degree.
GHB is short for gamma-hydroxybutyric acid or gamma-hydroxybutyrate. GHB is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that is administered as a liquid, pill, capsule or powder. Effects last up to four hours. As a CNS depressant, GHB slows the heart and breathing to potentially dangerous levels. It is a sedative and causes euphoria and anaesthesia. When mixed with alcohol, its effects are even more dangerous.
Some bodybuilders have used this drug as it is thought to help them get reduce body fat. It is mainly used recreationally or as a date rape drug as it induces a feeling of relaxation. It has no odour and no taste.
- Lowered inhibitions
- Short-term amnesia
- Dilated pupils
- Involuntary eye movement
Adverse effects, including those of overdose:
- Low body temperature
- Fatal respiratory problems
- Liver failure
GHB nicknames: Liquid X, Liquid Ecstasy, scoop, soap, grievous bodily harm, Georgie home boy, G-caps, everclear, G, smart drug, vita G.
GHB has very limited medical use. Any other use is illegal.
Ketamine is primarily used as a veterinary anaesthetic. It was developed as a human anaesthetic, but its use was largely discontinued after patients had too many adverse effects, including delirium, irrational behaviour, hallucinations and confusion. It is occasionally still used as an anaesthetic for a person who is injured but can’t be moved, for example, when they have a bad car accident and are trapped in the damaged car. In this situation, it would be dangerous to slow down a person’s breathing or make their blood pressure drop, as could happen if they were given morphine. Emergency medical technicians may give ketamine at times like these.
Ketamine is a dissociative drug, which means that a person abusing it loses touch with his own thoughts and identity. He (or she) may feel that someone else is having his thoughts. He may feel completely separated from his own body. A state of complete dissociation is sought by some addicts. They will keep taking more of the drug until they reach this state, called the “k-hole.”
- Distortion of sight and sound
- Feelings of detachment from the environment and oneself
- Slowed breathing
- Slurred speech
- Visual problems
- Muscle rigidity
- Aggressive behaviour
- Loss of coordination
- Rapid heart rate
Hallucinatory effects of ketamine last an hour or less, but a user’s judgement , coordination and perception may be affected for much longer. Some people suffer flashbacks after using this drug. It is possible to die from an overdose of ketamine. Ketamine can be injected, snorted or smoked. It is sometimes mixed with marijuana and smoked.
Ketamine may be used as a date rape drug. It is tasteless and odourless. A person raped after being given ketamine may not even remember that it happened.
Ketamine nicknames: Special K, Vitamin K, Super K, Ketaset, Jet, Super Acid, cat valium, honey oil, Kit Kat, K, Special La Coke
Use of ketamine with other drugs, including alcohol, benzodiazepines like Xanax, barbiturates or opiates is particularly dangerous and can result in death. Heavy use of ketamine can result in damage or even destruction of the bladder, resulting in severe pain during urination and need for surgical removal of the bladder.
Ketamine is frequently stolen from veterinary clinics. Its use is highly restricted and illicit use is illegal.
The generic name of Rohypnol is flunitrazepam. It is a type of benzodiazepine, the same class of drug as Xanax and Valium. This drug is ten times the strength of Valium.
The drug is illegal in the US but is available over the counter in Mexico and by prescription in many other countries.
It takes effect very quickly. Rohypnol is broken down and passed from the body quickly. Many people think this means that it cannot be detected on a drug test. This feature increases its popularity. In fact, it can be detected 72 hours later but some drug tests do not include a screen for this drug.
When used for date rape, Rohypnol is usually slipped into an alcoholic drink. It has no taste or odour. It has recently been released in a new formulation intended to prevent this drug from being used for date rape. It now comes as a green pill that turns blue when it is dissolved in a drink. An older white pill is being phased out of use by its manufacturer Hoffman-La Roche.
When the drug is simply being abused, most people swallow or chew the tablets or let them dissolve under their tongues. Or they may crush the pills and snort them, mix them with marijuana and smoke them, or dissolve them and inject the solution. Strong effects may last six hours but residual effects may still be present twelve hours later. Mixing Rohypnol with alcohol is particularly dangerous.
Rohypnol nicknames: Roofies, Rophies, Rope, Roach-2, Lunch Money Drug, Mexican Valium, Forget Me Pill, Wolfies, Ruffles, Robutal, La Rocha, Circles, Pingus, Rib
- Lower blood pressure
- Stomach upsets
- Visual disturbances
- Inability to fight off a rapist
- Muscle relaxation
- Loss of social restraints
Because Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine, withdrawal must be done carefully and under a doctor’s supervision. Withdrawal symptoms may include muscle pain, tension, loss of identity, delirium, shock and seizures.
While many people know that LSD was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, they may not know that LSD has recently made somewhat of a comeback. LSD is fairly popular at concerts and raves, but also at parties and on college campuses. The drug quickly causes distortions to perceptions of light, space, sound and time. A person may suffer a panic attack due to his ability to control his perceptions or environment which can lead to dangerous behaviour. Uncontrollable hallucinations can lead to aggressive behaviour or may lead the person to try some impossible action, like taking flight out of a second floor window.
LSD is sold in tablets or capsules but traditionally is distributed on small squares of blotter paper, often imprinted with a character or words. It may also be distributed as a liquid. The high of LSD is referred to as a trip. It may last as long as 12 hours.
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Swift emotional changes
Much later, a person may re-experience the effects of LSD, a phenomenon referred to as a flashback. These effects can come on with no warning at all and occur months or even a year or more later.
LSD is not physically addictive but it does produce a tolerance, which means that a person must take more of the drug to get the same effect that a smaller dose used to produce. Some people become psychologically addicted and cannot stop using this drug despite the harm it is doing.
LSD nicknames: Acid, Boomers, Yellow Sunshines, California sunshine, doses, dots, hippie, windowpane, tabs, blotters, battery acid, looney tunes.
Perhaps the worse effect of LSD is its ability to cause psychosis, either short-term or long-term. There have been cases where a person became psychotic or schizophrenic for a period of months, and others where the person did not recover.
Methamphetamine is a very strong stimulant. With some methods of administration, there is a fast “rush” of euphoria followed by a long period of less intense euphoria. When meth is ingested, there is no rush but the high may last for as long as ten hours.
The user has more energy than normal and will not be able to sleep until the drug wears off. If he has plenty of the drug, he may continually re-dose until he has been up for days. If he runs out of the drug, he will crash and sleep around the clock. He will not have an appetite, meaning that he will probably lose a lot of weight. Heavy meth users become gaunt and look pale and unhealthy. He or she will probably appear unusually active but may also act nervous and anxious.
The user’s body temperature will go up and he may appear hot and sweaty without the environment being hot or his having been physically active. Pupils will be dilated and blood pressure will go up. He or she may become sexually excited.
Meth abuse results in the following adverse effects:
- Deterioration of appearance
- Irregular or speeded heartbeat
- Erratic, changeable moods
- Aggressive behaviour
- Paranoia that can become severe
- Damage to teeth
- Rough skin with sores
Meth is highly addictive. Some people have stated that just one or two uses was all it took for them to become addicted.
Slang terms for methamphetamine: Chalk, crank, crystal, ice, speed, white cross, tine, batu, LA glass, LA ice, quartz, junk, no doze, rocket fuel, scooby snax, cotton candy
The Other Synthetics
Chemical tests of substances sold as these drugs, especially Ecstasy, have shown that they are frequently adulterated with other substances. Here is some brief information on these other substances and their dangers.
Piperazines like BZP (1-benzylpiperazine) and TFMPP (1-(3-trifluoromethyl-phenyl)piperazine) among others: These drugs are often sold in blister packs. Users experience increased heart rate and blood pressure. Pupils dilate. They go hot and cold, have stomach pains and nausea, headaches and tremors. Some people experience severe seizures and others have panic attacks.
(mostly found in the UK)
- Para-methoxyamphetamine (PMA)
- Para-methoxymethamphetamine (PMMA)
- Chemically, these drugs are similar to Ecstasy or methamphetamine.
These are strong stimulants that cause increases in energy, body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. They can also cause hallucinations, convulsions and respiratory distress. Some people have received PMA or PMMA when they thought they were getting Ecstasy and later died. Dozens of deaths have been associated with these two drugs.
(mostly outside the US):
This drug is in a class called cathinones. It is chemically similar to amphetamine and produces a similar experience to amphetamine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy or cocaine. Users report euphoria and a sense of wellbeing, alertness and confidence. Adverse effects include racing heart, blurred vision, tension in face and jaw, blue fingers and other extremities, nausea, vomiting and a compulsion to continue to use it despite harm. Some people suffer hallucinations and insomnia. Use of mephedrone has been associated with a number of deaths, but the role of this drug in causing those deaths is uncertain.
Known chemically as 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone; This is also a cathinone and has similar effects as mephedrone but it is much more potent than other drugs in this class.
This is one of the chemicals that may be used in “bath salts” or that may be found in a pill sold as Ecstasy. Use has been associated with the sudden death of otherwise healthy individuals. Users tend to overheat, have blurred vision and lose their ability to perceive time accurately. They may grind their teeth, be dizzy and confused and suffer hallucinations. Users sometimes report a feeling of empathy, similar to that of Ecstasy.