Club Drug Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment Resources

Last Medical Reviewer On: March 26, 2024
Updated On: Nov 1, 2023
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Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Medical Review by:

Dr. Po Chang Hsu MD, MS

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    Club drugs are substances that are often brought to nightclubs and parties for the purpose of recreation. Some club drugs have recognized medical uses, and their potential for addiction varies. For example, MDMA is currently under research for potential therapeutic uses, such as in the treatment of PTSD, and certain stimulants, like cocaine, have limited medical applications in procedures requiring local anesthesia. They also pose a very serious danger of overdose and death. But what are club drugs, and what makes them so addictive?

    What Are Club Drugs?

    Club drugs take on many different forms, and there are always new ones showing up in the mix. The purpose of club drugs is to enhance a person’s experience at a party or other recreational gathering. Many of these drugs are often combined with alcohol, which can further enhance their dangerous side effects.

     

    Almost all club drugs are illegal and are smuggled into parties by the guests or hosts. In a study of New York adults who regularly went to clubs, around 70% of them used illicit drugs at least once during their lifetime.[1] This is only one example that shows how many people use illicit substances when they go to clubs.

    Side Effects of MDMA (Ecstasy)

    Ecstasy is one of the most common club drugs out there. This is a drug that is taken by mouth and produces feelings of pleasure and relaxation. Many people also describe feeling more empathetic and aware of their surroundings when they’re on this drug.

    MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, molly, or mandy, has stimulant and psychoactive properties. While it is classified as a Schedule I substance in the United States, indicating a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment, ongoing research is exploring its potential therapeutic benefits, particularly for PTSD.

    Side Effects of Hallucinogens (LSD, DMT)

    LSD is one of the most popular hallucinogenic drugs on the street. Hallucinogens allow people to see things that aren’t there. They may also smell, hear, and taste things that aren’t real. They may also cause people to have delusions. It is a synthetic drug that is often referred to as acid or tabs and is another Schedule I drug. This drug can be particularly dangerous and can cause a person to become panicked, violent, or suicidal.

    Side Effects of Stimulants (Cocaine, Meth)

    Cocaine and meth are both very popular stimulants that people like to bring to clubs and parties. They give people a boost of energy. Many people feel elated and euphoric when using them. They may have enough energy to go all night without sleeping. These drugs are also very dangerous and can lead to heart attacks, fainting, seizures, and death. Cocaine and methamphetamine are classified as Schedule II drugs in the United States, indicating they have a high potential for abuse but also have accepted medical uses under severe restrictions. Cocaine is used for certain medical procedures as a local anesthetic, and methamphetamine is prescribed in very limited circumstances for certain disorders, including ADHD and narcolepsy.

    How Are Club Drugs Taken?

    Many drugs are taken by mouth, such as LSD and ecstasy. Some, like cocaine, are snorted through the nose. There are also some drugs, like meth, that are injected or smoked in a pipe. Snorting, smoking, and injecting drugs produce immediate effects. Taking a drug by mouth may take as long as an hour before it kicks in.

    Club Drugs Quick Reference Chart

    Drug Category Commercial & Street Names DEA Schedule Administration
    MDMA Molly, mandy Schedule I Oral
    Hallucinogens LSD, DMT, acid, tabs Schedule I Oral, sometimes via blotter paper absorbed through the mouth
    Stimulants Cocaine (coke, blow, snow), Methamphetamine (glass) Schedule II Snorting (cocaine), smoking, injections, inhalation (methamphetamine can be smoked or inhaled as 'glass' or 'crystal')

    Learn About Specific Club Drugs

    Other club drugs include roofies, ketamine, and GHB. Many club drugs are frequently used in combination with alcohol, which can enhance their psychoactive effects but also significantly increase the risk of dangerous side effects and overdose.

    Also See:

    • Inhalants
    • Cocaine
    • Benzos

    Statistics on Club Drug Use, Misuse, and Addiction

    In 2019, approximately 13% of individuals aged 12 and older reported using illicit drugs in the past month. [2] While some prescription drugs are also used as club drugs, like Adderall, they are not as common. Most people prefer to try more intense drugs like LSD or ecstasy. What many people don’t realize is that a single recreational night of using these drugs can have serious health consequences.

    Effects of Club Drug Abuse

    Every club drug has different effects, and all of them have unique dangers. Since most club drugs are taken with alcohol, fainting is a common side effect. Club drugs often act to enhance a person’s surroundings. This makes the environment’s bright lights and loud music more noticeable and engaging. Club drug abuse can also lead to headaches, dry mouth, fatigue, racing heart, and stomach troubles.

    Can You Overdose on Club Drugs?

    The risk of overdose on club drugs can be particularly high for individuals without prior experience due to unfamiliarity with the drug’s effects and the potential for misjudging doses. Many people are pressured by their friends to try them and take too much. This can cause them to overdose and become unresponsive. Some may die if they don’t get the treatment they need fast enough.

    Signs and Symptoms of Club Drugs Overdose

    The early signs of an overdose include confusion, headache, fatigue, irritability, nausea, and vomiting. As the symptoms get worse, the person may pass out and become unresponsive. Their heart may stop if it slows down too much. This is also true of their breathing. A person can die once they go unconscious. They may suffocate, or they may die from drug toxicity.

    What to do if you suspect someone is overdosing on Club Drugs:

    A drug overdose is a medical emergency, and you should treat it as such by calling 911 immediately. The ideal scenario is for medical services to get to the scene as quickly as possible to help the overdosed person. This gives them a better chance of recovering from the incident.

    Dangers of Long-Term Club Drug Use

    Many people only use club drugs when they go partying on the weekend. However, some may become addicted and start using these drugs every day. This can lead to internal organ damage, especially to the liver, which is the organ that metabolizes drugs. The heart, lungs, and kidneys are also vulnerable to these drugs. The brain may sustain permanent negative changes and cognitive decline.

    Mixing Club Drugs with Other Drugs

    The concurrent use of club drugs and alcohol is common and can significantly increase the danger, potentially leading to more severe health risks such as overdose, acute intoxication, and long-term organ damage. Some may mix club drugs with other club drugs in addition to alcohol. This can lead to an overdose, seizure, or death.

    Club Drug Addiction and Abuse

    Around 106,000 people died from drug overdoses in the US in 2021.[3] Many of these overdoses involved illegal drugs like club drugs. Many people don’t realize that it’s possible to die from an overdose after trying a drug just once. A single dose might prove too much for a person, and such a mistake could be fatal.

    Signs of Addiction to Club Drugs

    If you find yourself craving club drugs when you’re not using them, you may have developed a dependence or addiction. This is also true if you experience withdrawal symptoms and feel ill when not using those drugs. Some may also develop headaches, stomach pain, muscle pain, and fatigue when not intoxicated. This can lead to irritability and drug-seeking behaviors like stealing.

    Club Drug Addiction and Mental Health

    Club drugs, when used in the long term, can lead to depression and anxiety. While these drugs can make you feel great at the moment, they are often accompanied by a crash. This crash can make a person very depressed, and this depression can be long-lasting. Some may also experience paranoia and mood changes.

    Club Drug Addiction Treatment

    Club drug addiction treatment involves a lot of therapy. This allows a person to understand their addiction and what they can do to move past it. Most people require a few months of treatment before getting back on track. Many types of health insurance cover this treatment, so the cost shouldn’t be a big issue. The main programs are partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, detox, and outpatient treatment.

    Therapies Used in Club Drug Addiction Treatment

    Some of the most effective drug therapy options include the following:

    • Cognitive behavioral therapy
    • Holistic therapy
    • Behavioral therapy
    • Art therapy

    Dual Diagnosis for Co-Occurring Disorders

    Individuals with pre-existing substance use disorders may be at higher risk for developing addictions to club drugs. The presence of an existing disorder can complicate their ability to cease club drug use.

    Club Drug Withdrawal Management Treatment

    Detoxification is a challenging yet critical initial step in the addiction treatment process, with the duration and intensity of withdrawal symptoms varying by individual and substance. Physical and psychological well-being improvement typically begins once detoxification is complete, though the timeline can differ based on several factors. The cost will depend on your program, healthcare provider, insurance, etc.

    Drugs Used in Club Drug Withdrawal Management

    For dependencies involving opioid-based substances, medications like buprenorphine and methadone can be effective in managing withdrawal symptoms. For withdrawal from other club drugs, treatment may involve supportive care and medications targeted at specific symptoms, such as anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants, rather than just over-the-counter pain medications.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does Everyone Get Addicted to Club Drugs?
    Are Club Drugs Dangerous?
    Do Club Drugs Include Prescription Drugs?

    Are you or a loved one struggling with Club Drug usage?

    Sources
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