Club Drugs (GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol)
What Are Club Drugs?
Club drugs are a group of diverse substances that are used at nightclubs, concerts, bars, and parties. They are often associated with “raves,” all-night dance parties. Club drugs are typically depressants, sometimes with hallucinogenic properties, that lower inhibition, impair judgment, and are associated with sexual risk taking. Users often combine these drugs with alcohol or other illegal substances, which can dangerously accelerate their effects. In recent years, use of club drugs among teens has been on the decline, according to the annual Monitoring the Future report.
About 90 percent of the ketamine legally sold today is intended for veterinary use.
Types of Club Drugs and Their Effects
GHB (liquid X) is a depressant that comes as a clear liquid or powder, which dissolves easily in liquids and is virtually tasteless. GHB sedates the body and can create feelings of euphoria. It can also slow breathing and the heart rate to dangerously low levels. In high doses, it can quickly cause an overdose, coma, or death. GHB and the club drug Rohypnol are considered “date rape drugs” because they are used to facilitate sexual assault.
Ketamine (special K) is an anesthetic typically used on animals. It is packaged as a white powder and is either snorted or injected. Ketamine distorts perceptions of sight and sounds and produces feelings of detachment. It can cause confusion, memory loss, agitation, psychosis, and elevated blood pressure. Regular use of ketamine can also severely and permanently damage the bladder’s ability to function effectively.
MDMA (ecstasy, Molly) is a psychoactive drug with amphetamine-like and hallucinogenic properties usually taken orally as a pill, tablet, or capsule. It can cause potentially dangerous physical effects, such as the inability to regulate body temperature, extreme nausea, a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, and death.
Rohypnol (roofies) is an illegal benzodiazepine (a tranquilizer that has sleep-inducing, muscle-relaxing properties). It comes as a white pill that may have a pink or brownish tinge. Rohypnol can impair attention, motor function, and memory. It can also cause confusion, loss of coordination, visual disturbances, nausea, and decreased blood pressure. Like GHB, it is dissolves easily in carbonated drinks and is used to facilitate sexual assault.
“I used drugs as a way to escape… hallucinogens, club drugs, crystal meth and even heroin.”
Sarah, Phoenix House Alum
Signs that Someone Needs Treatment for Club Drug Use
If you are concerned that you or someone you care about may have a problem with club drugs, here are questions to ask:
Do they experience cravings or urgings to use the drugs?
Do they feel they need to use these drugs in order to have a good time?
Are they taking larger amounts of the drug or using it for longer periods than they mean to?
Do they ignore important social, recreational, or work-related activities because of their use?
Do they continue to use the drugs even when they know it is harming their relationships with others?
Have they tried to quit, but couldn’t?
If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you or your loved one may have a problem.
At times, intoxication with club drugs can be a medical emergency.
In these instances, call 911 right away.
Addiction treatment at Phoenix House is individualized and based on personal needs, such as whether someone has a co-occurring substance use or alcohol problem. All our treatment methods are grounded in evidence-based practices. We offer both individual and group therapy, and target the underlying causes of addiction, helping our clients acquire the tools to develop new, positive patterns of behavior. We also offer ongoing support to help clients successfully maintain recovery.
We Can Help
If you are concerned about a loved one’s drug use or your own, we hope you will reach out to us. Our caring, qualified staff can offer a confidential evaluation and help you plan the best course of action. Phoenix House offers safe, affordable treatment in a variety of locations.