Club Drugs: Dancing On Thin Ice

Club drugs are substances often used by people partying in bars, nightclubs, dance clubs and at concerts and raves.

They are used by people of all ages in conjunction with sexual activity.

Common club drugs are GHB (G, soap, Grievous Bodily Harm), Ketamine (K, Special K, Vitamin K), MDMA (Ecstasy, X, E), Methamphetamine (meth, speed, crystal, ice cream), cocaine (coke, snow), LSD (acid) and Rohypnol (roofies).

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the availability of club drugs is rapidly increasing all across the nation.

Different groups tend to favor specific types of club drugs; for example, in teen raves ecstasy is commonplace, and crystal meth is readily found in gay dance clubs. Different club drugs have varying effects. Some, like Ketamine and LSD, distort perception and produce feelings of detachment. GHB and Rohypnol are sedating. Still others, like cocaine and meth, are stimulants. MDMA has both stimulant and psychoactive properties.

Are Club Drugs Addictive?

As discussed above, the effects of club drugs differ. So do the addictive properties. Cocaine and meth are among the most addictive substances known to man. Attempting to use cocaine or meth (or any other addictive stimulant drug) in a casual/recreational fashion is a very bad idea. In fact, it’s a little like playing with matches in a room filled with dynamite. No matter how careful you are, you’re likely to blow the place up — probably sooner rather than later.

Other club drugs, MDMA for instance, are not thought to be physically addictive. However, these drugs often take on a great importance in people’s lives, and many people become compulsive in their usage. Frankly, the common belief that club drugs are not addictive is about as realistic as any other urban legend. Usually this “non-addictive” assertion stems from the fact that some (not all) club drugs do not cause the physical withdrawal symptoms seen with, for instance, alcohol and heroin. Nevertheless, prolonged use of these drugs alters brain chemistry so thoroughly that frequent users find it difficult or even impossible to experience pleasure without the drug. As more than one user has asked: “If it’s not addictive, why can’t I stop?”

What Are the Consequences of Club Drugs?

Most users of club drugs also use other substances, often simultaneously, and drug interactions can and do enhance and/or alter the effects. Alcohol is commonly co-abused with club drugs, as are benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, etc.) and other sedatives, sometimes with disastrous, even fatal consequences. Protease inhibitors (HIV meds) can be especially dangerous. For instance, the potency of meth is doubled or even tripled when the user is also taking a protease inhibitor, greatly increasing the likelihood of overdose. The potency of GHB is increased five to ten times!

Club drugs are also used in conjunction with sexual activity. Crystal meth in particular is popular among highly sexually active people, as it allows them to be sexual for an entire day — even two or three — without sleeping, eating, or coming down (especially when a drug like Viagra or Cialis is along for the ride). Unfortunately, while disinhibited by drugs, safe sex is often not a priority. The propensity for unsafe sex while abusing meth and other club drugs greatly increases an individual’s risk for unwanted pregnancies and contracting and/or transmitting HIV, hepatitis, and other STDs.

The most obvious consequence of club drugs is chemical dependency (aka, addiction). Addiction inevitably leads to a wide variety of negative life consequences, including but not limited to lost relationships, trouble at school or work, financial problems, loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, emotional/psychological issues, declining physical health, erratic and possibly violent behavior, suicide, accidental overdose, and even arrest and incarceration.

The fact that club drugs are supposed to be for “parties” and “good times” does not make them any less dangerous or problematic. The simple fact is club drugs come with the same risks and consequences as “junkie” drugs like heroin. No matter the original intent of the user and his/her choice of substance, once a person is hooked, the downward path of addiction looks remarkably similar for everyone.

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