A Parent's Guide to Drugs of Abuse - Part 4 - Club Drugs
This is Part 4 in a series about Drugs of Abuse. Although it is titled "A Parent's Guide" it contains information for anyone who has a loved one or friend who is addicted to drugs. Millions of people worldwide struggle with drug addiction each day. There are wasted lives, broken families, and tragic deaths. In this series I hope to provide some basic info on the more commonly encountered drugs of abuse, including some very new ones that you may not have heard about.
This segment will cover Club Drugs.
Club Drugs are drugs that are commonly used at bars, night clubs, parties, or all night dance parties known as “raves”. Many of these drugs, such as Ecstasy, LSD, and Ketamine are chosen for their stimulating and hallucinogenic (or “psychedelic”) effects. These allow the user to party longer and with a feeling of greater intensity, and are often used to counter the effects of alcohol.
Other Club Drugs, also known as “Date Rape” drugs, are used to incapacitate unsuspecting victims for the purpose of sexually assaulting them. They are often given to the target victim without the victim’s knowledge, by placing them in a drink or by telling the victim that they are some other drug. The most common of these are Rohypnol and GHB.
Ecstasy contains a chemical compound called MDMA. This chemical causes ecstasy to act as both a stimulant and a hallucinogen. Most ecstasy tablets also contain a variety of other drugs and substances, which may include methamphetamine, cocaine, dextromethorphan, and ephedrine.
Ecstasy is usually found in the form of colorful tablets which have logos or designs stamped into them. Ecstasy is also found less frequently in powder, capsule, or liquid form. The tablets are usually taken orally, but are sometimes crushed and sniffed or “snorted”, and may also be smoked. Some slang names for ecstasy are Essence, XTC, Adam, Hug drug, and MDMA.
Physical effects, which occur 30 to 45 minutes after ingestion, may include increased heart rate and blood pressure, euphoria, increased energy, distorted perception, sensual and sexual arousal, blurred vision, and sensitivity to touch. Additional effects, such as confusion, anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, depression, and continued desire for the drug may also occur and may continue for weeks. Use may also cause long-term brain damage.
Outward signs of use are similar to other stimulants and may include dilated pupils, excessive sweating, teeth clenching, nausea, disorientation, dizziness, and fainting.
Ecstasy use is usually combined with the use of marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs. This makes treatment especially difficult in the case of an overdose. Ecstasy use has been fatal due to kidney, liver, or cardiovascular failure.
LSD is a hallucinogen that is almost always taken orally. It is found in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid, or on blotter paper. When used on blotter paper it is commonly known as “blotter acid”. The paper is usually brightly decorated with a design or image and is divided into small squares. Each square is one dose of LSD, which has been applied in liquid form. LSD may also be used as a liquid by placing a drop directly onto the user’s tongue or by putting it on sugar cubes which are ingested. Some other slang names for LSD are Acid, Micro-dots or Dots, and Window pane. Use of LSD is called a “trip” or “tripping”. An LSD trip lasts around 12 hours.
The effects of LSD are highly unpredictable. Doses are usually given in a very imprecise manner and an individual’s physical and psychological reactions to the drug can vary greatly. Effects may include hallucinations and psychological confusion, delusions, greatly impaired judgment, insomnia, loss of appetite, and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Panic attacks may occur and are known as a “bad trip”. During these attacks the user may experience frightening changes in their perception of time, surroundings, and self, including distorted sensations that the user can “hear colors” or “see sounds”.
Some outward signs of use are dilated pupils, excessive sweating, dry mouth, disorientation, confusion, and tremors.
Psychological or emotional problems, and “flashbacks” (a “trip” without having used the drug again), may occur days or even years after LSD use. Death and self-mutilation during LSD use have been reported.
Ketamine is an animal tranquilizer used by veterinarians. It is a strong hallucinogen that comes as a liquid or as a white or off-white powder. It is usually snorted or smoked in marijuana or tobacco cigarettes. As with ecstasy and LSD, ketamine is often used as a club drug in combination with other drugs or alcohol. Some slang names for ketamine are Special-K, Cat, and Super-K.
Ketamine’s effects on the body can include hallucinations, perceptual distortions, feelings of a lost sense of time or identity, anxiety or irritability, depression, confusion, loss of consciousness, delirium, respiratory distress, and amnesia. The effects of ketamine usually last 2 to 3 hours.
Some outward signs of use are dilated pupils and involuntarily rapid eye movement, excessive salivation, tears, nausea, and confusion.
Since ketamine can produce loss of consciousness and amnesia it is sometimes used as a date rape drug. Overdoses of ketamine may be fatal and flashbacks may occur several weeks after having used the drug.
Rohypnol is a depressant used for anxiety relief, sedation, and as a muscle relaxant. It comes in tablet form and is ingested orally or crushed and snorted. Rohypnol is also often dissolved in drinks, such as alcohol. Some slang names for Rohypnol are Roofies, Roach, and the Forget-me-pill. It is well known as a date rape drug.
Physical effects can include euphoria, relaxation, impaired judgment, reduced inhibitions, decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, confusion, and amnesia. Use with alcohol increases the strength of these effects. Rohypnol can physically and psychologically incapacitate a person. Because of this it is often placed in the alcoholic drink of an unsuspecting victim to incapacitate them, preventing any resistance to sexual assault. Rohypnol’s amnesia effect may leave the victim unaware of the details of what has happened to them.
Outward signs of abuse include slurred speech, loss of coordination, fatigue, dizziness, and an appearance of being “drunk”. Rohypnol is addictive when taken repeatedly over a period of time. Overdose can be fatal.
GHB is a prescription drug which is used for the treatment of narcolepsy. GHB substitutes are usually cleaners that are marketed and sold illegally for a wide variety of uses. GHB is usually found as a liquid or a white powder, but is also seen in tablet or capsule form. GHB is taken orally, usually mixed in a drink. At clubs and parties it is often mixed into an alcoholic drink. It is commonly used in date rapes. Some slang names for GHB are Easy-lay, Georgia home-boy, and Grievous bodily harm.
Effects of GHB can include euphoria, drowsiness, decreased anxiety, hallucinations, confusion, impaired judgment, unconsciousness, and amnesia. Similar to Rohypnol, GHB can physically and psychologically incapacitate a person, making them vulnerable to sexual assault and leaving the victim unaware of the details of what has happened.
Signs of use are excessive sweating, insomnia, tremors, drowsiness, and anxiety.
GHB is an extremely dangerous drug and can be addictive. A GHB overdose can cause seizures, significantly slowed heart rate and breathing, nausea and vomiting, coma, and death. There is no antidote available for GHB.
At clubs, parties, and “raves” the atmosphere is often very chaotic. These can be dangerous circumstances where an unsuspecting person may have a drug slipped to them in a drink. Adults and teens alike need to be aware of this danger and take precautions to protect themselves.
First, carefully choose the locations and events that you attend. Avoiding potentially dangerous situations may make all the difference in the world.
Second, always travel and party with friends that you know you can trust. Keep an eye on each other. Watch each other for any strange behavior that might indicate that someone has been drugged.
Third, keep close watch on anything you consume, especially drinks. Don't accept a drink from someone if you did not see it poured and are not sure the contents are safe. Don't leave your drink unattended. If you do, discard it when you return without drinking any more from it. Discard any drink that has a strange taste or color.
Finally, if you or a friend feel that you may have been drugged seek help and medical attention immediately!
Please share these tips with your teenagers and other family members who may go to clubs, parties, or any other event that may place them at risk.