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Club Drugs and Club Drug Abuse

Parents know they need to talk to their kids about drugs-marijuana, cocaine, heroin-but club drugs are a dangerous and growing problem that many parents don't know about. Because the physical effects are mild in the beginning, many kids think club drugs are "fun drugs" and are harmless. One of the biggest dangers is that club drugs are created in illegal laboratories, and are often contaminated with life-threatening additives, so the user doesn't know what he or she is taking. Here's what parents should know and communicate with their kids about general risks of taking club drugs. Remember, you don't have to know the answer to every question your child asks. One of the most important things you can do is just to start an ongoing dialogue about drug abuse.

Club drugs are a loosely defined faux-category of recreational drugs which are associated with use at dance clubs, parties, and raves. In particular, these drugs are associated with the rave scene, and tend to have stimulating and/or psychedelic properties. Examples of drugs typically categorized as club drugs include ecstasy, various amphetamines (such as speed), LSD and less obviously suitable substances like GHB and Ketamine (which do not act as stimulants, but are commonly referred to as club drugs).

Although the previously mentioned selection of drugs are generally categorized as club drugs by the media and the United States government, this distinction probably does not have an accurate correlation to real usage patterns. For example, alcohol is generally not included under the category of club drugs, even though it is probably used more than any other drug at clubs.

Similarly, Ketamine is often considered a club drug, but it has effects that are not at all suited to the typical club environment, so it may be used outside of clubs to a greater extent than in them. As a side note, other drugs which among users are considered more suited for club usage than Ketamine, such as cocaine and 2C-B, are usually not included in the category of club drugs by the media and government. In recent years, synthetic phenethylamines such as 2C-I, 2C-B and DOB have been referred to as club drugs due to their stimulating and psychedelic nature (and their relationship with MDMA).

  • Ecstasy (MDMA). (Other slang names: XTC, Adam, Clarity, Hug Drug, Lover's Speed) Ecstasy, usually taken as a tablet or capsule, creates feelings of euphoria, alertness, and energy and allows users to dance for extended periods. Using ecstasy may lead to dehydration, high blood pressure, and heart and kidney failure. Frequent use can cause long-lasting damage to brain cells that may affect memory. After the high is over, users often feel depressed and take more drugs to extend the high.
    Research in animals links MDMA exposure to long-term damage to serotonin neurons. A study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused damage of serotonin nerve terminals that was evident 6 to 7 years later. While similar neurotoxicity has not been definitively shown in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA's damaging properties suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption.
  • GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate). (Other slang names: Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy) Since about 1990, GHB has been used in the U.S. for its euphoric, sedative, and anabolic (body building) effects. It is a central nervous system depressant that was widely available over-the-counter in health food stores during the 1980s and until 1992. It was purchased largely by body builders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building.
    GHB sedates the central nervous system. At high doses it can slow breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. Overdose of GHB can occur quickly and is characterized by drowsiness, nausea, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, and impaired breathing.
  • Special K (Ketamine). (Other slang names: K, Vitamin K, Cat Valiums) Ketamine is an anesthetic that can be used safely only in medical settings. However, some young people abuse ketamine by taking dangerously high doses, which cause dream-like states and hallucinations. At high doses, ketamine can cause amnesia, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.
  • Roofies (Rohypnol┬«). (Other slang names: Rophies, Roche, Forget-me Pill) Rohypnol┬« (flunitrazepam) is used in other countries as a sedative and a treatment for insomnia. It is tasteless and odorless and dissolves easily in carbonated beverages. It causes profound memory loss and has been used in sexual assaults. Other effects include decreased blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness.
    Abuse of two other similar drugs appears to have replaced Rohypnol abuse in some regions of the country. These are clonazepam, marketed in the U.S. as Klonopin and in Mexico as Rivotril, and alprazolam, marketed as Xanax.

Club drugs account for increasing numbers of drug overdoses and emergency room visits. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the number of emergency department (ED) mentions for MDMA and GHB, often associated with the crime of drug-facilitated rape, more than doubled between 1998 and 1999. DAWN data for 1999 further indicate that young people are the primary users of MDMA and GHB. For instance, whereas 29 percent of all DAWN ED cases involved patients aged 25 and under, at least 80 percent of ketamine, LSD, MDMA, and Rohypnol ED mentions and 59 percent of GHB ED mentions were aged 25 and under.

MDMA is unquestionably the most popular of the club drugs, and evidence of MDMA use by teenagers can be seen at most rave parties. Ketamine and GHB also are used at raves, as is Rohypnol, although to a lesser extent. A recent resurgence in the availability and use of some hallucinogens--LSD, PCP (phencyclidine), psilocybin, and peyote or mescaline --has also been noted at raves and dance clubs and may necessitate their inclusion in the club drugs category. Inhalants like nitrous oxide are sometimes found at rave events; nitrous oxide is sold in gas-filled balloons called "whippets" for $5-$10.

Rampant use of club drugs at raves may be leading to the use of other and highly addictive drugs by youths. There have been widespread reports of increasing availability and use of Asian methamphetamine tablets (frequently referred to as "yaba") at California raves and nightclubs. Heroin is being encountered more frequently at raves and clubs in large metropolitan areas, especially in the eastern United States. A wider variety of visually appealing and easy-to-administer forms of MDMA, LSD, heroin, and combination tablets are also found at raves and on college campuses.

Despite their popularity club drugs are highly dangerous and most often lead to death.

Ecstasy is a stimulant and a hallucinogen, type of drug.

In 2007, .7% 10th grade students admitted to abusing Rohypnol at least once within that year.

Club drug pills can be easily hidden like in pez dispensers or tic tac boxes, and other candy containers, such as skittles and tootsie rolls.

Chronic abuse of ecstasy can lead to damaging the brains ability to think and regulate emotions, memory, pain and sleep.

GHB abuse can cause coma and seizures.

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