Club drugs are a group of psychoactive drugs that tend to be abused by teens and young adults at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties, they are:
- Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
- MDMA (ecstasy)
GHB is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 for use in the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). This approval came with severe restrictions, including its use only for the treatment of narcolepsy, and the requirement for a patient registry monitored by the FDA. GHB also exists naturally in the brain, but at much lower concentrations than those found when GHB is abused.
Rohypnol use began gaining popularity in the United States in the early 1990s. It is a benzodiazepine (chemically similar to sedative-hypnotic drug such as Valium), but it is not approved for medical use.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, mostly used in veterinary practice.
How Are Club Drugs Abused?
- GHB and Rohypnol are available in odorless, colorless, and tasteless forms that are frequently combined with alcohol and other beverages. Both drugs have been used to commit sexual assaults (also known as “date rape drug”) due to their ability to sedate and incapacitate a person, preventing them from resisting sexual assault.
- GHB is usually ingested orally, either in liquid or powder form, while Rohypnol is typically taken orally in pill form.
- Both can be abused for their intoxicating effects, similar to other CNS depressants.
- GHB has also been used by bodybuilders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building
- Ketamine is usually snorted or injected.
- Repeated use of GHB may lead to withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating.
- Severe withdrawal reactions have been reported, especially if other drugs or alcohol are involved.
- Chronic use of Rohypnol can produce tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.
- There have been reports of people binging on ketamine, similar to cocaine- or amphetamine-dependent individuals.
- Ketamine users can develop signs of tolerance and cravings for the drug.
What Other Adverse Effects Do Club Drugs Have on Health?
Uncertainties about the sources, chemicals, and possible contaminants used to manufacture many club drugs make it extremely difficult to determine toxicity or short and long-term medical consequences. Coma and seizures can occur following use of GHB. Combined use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties.
- Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other CNS depressants.
- Ketamine, in high doses, can cause impaired motor function, high blood pressure, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.
What Are Treatment Options ?
- There are no GHB detection tests for use in emergency rooms
- some physicians may be unfamiliar with the drug, so incidents may go undetected.
- Treatment for Rohypnol follows accepted protocols for any benzodiazepine, which may consist of a 3- to 5-day inpatient detoxification program with 24-hour intensive medical monitoring and management of withdrawal symptoms
- Patients with a ketamine-overdose are treated for acute symptoms, with attention to cardiac and respiratory functions.
MDMA is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that is chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth, and distortions in time, perception, and tactile experiences.
How Is MDMA Abused?
MDMA is taken orally, usually as a capsule or tablet. It was initially popular among Caucasian adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or at weekend-long dance parties known as raves. More recently, the profile of the typical MDMA user has changed, with the drug now affecting a broader range of ethnic groups. MDMA is also popular among urban gay males— some report using MDMA as part of a multiple-drug experience that includes marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, and other legal and illegal substances.
For some people, MDMA can be addictive. A survey of young MDMA users found that 43 percent of those who reported ecstasy use met the accepted diagnostic criteria for dependence. MDMA abstinence-associated withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating.
Methamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is similar in structure to amphetamine. Due to its high potential for abuse, methamphetamine is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled. Although methamphetamine can be prescribed by a doctor, its medical uses are limited, and the doses that are prescribed are much lower than those typically abused. Most of the methamphetamine in Canada comes from either “superlabs”, or small, illegal laboratories.
How Is Methamphetamine Abused?
Methamphetamine is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol and is taken orally, intranasally (snorting the powder), by needle injection, or by smoking.
Chronic methamphetamine abuse significantly changes how the brain functions. Brain imaging studies have shown alterations in the activity of the dopamine system that are associated with reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning. There are also severe structural and functional changes in areas of the brain that have to do with emotions and memory, which may account for many of the emotional and cognitive problems observed in chronic methamphetamine abusers.
Repeated methamphetamine abuse can lead to addiction, a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use; Some of these changes persist long after methamphetamine abuse is stopped.
What Other Adverse Effects Does Methamphetamine Have on Health?
Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hyperthermia.
Long-term methamphetamine abuse has many negative health consequences, including extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Chronic methamphetamine abusers can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions.
Meth use can also alter judgment and inhibition and can lead people to engage in unsafe behaviors, including risky sexual behavior leading to numerous diseases and infections.
Currently, the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are comprehensive cognitive-behavioral interventions; A treatment approach that combines behavioral therapy, family education, individual counseling, 12-step support, drug testing, and encouragement for nondrug-related activities. Also contingency management interventions, which provide tangible incentives in exchange for engaging in treatment and maintaining abstinence, have also been shown to be effective. There are no medications at this time approved to treat methamphetamine addiction.