What Are Club Drugs?

by | May 20, 2023 | Addiction, Recovery | 0 comments

Club drugs (sometimes called rave or party drugs) are psychoactive drugs that act on the central nervous system and cause changes in mood, awareness, sensory perception, and behavior. They are most often used by teens and young adults at bars, concerts, raves, nightclubs, and parties, and sadly have become somewhat socially acceptable despite their many dangers. Their side effects can be harmful or dangerous, particularly when used in combinations or taken with alcohol. Addiction, physical injury, and overdose are all very real possibilities.

Types of Club Drugs

The term “club drugs” covers a number of categories of drugs and several individual drugs within each category. Some have legitimate medical uses, while others are mixtures of different substances (sometimes called “designer drugs”). Young people use them to “enhance” their experience at these social events by lowering inhibitions or overcoming social anxiety, or because of curiosity, peer pressure, a desire for more energy, relaxation, or simply to get high.

Here are the categories and some examples of each:

Stimulants and amphetamines

  • often prescribed to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, low blood pressure, asthma, and other conditions
  • MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly) – MDMA is also a hallucinogen, and is considered THE club drug
  • methamphetamine (Speed, Ice, Meth)
  • crystal methamphetamine
  • ephedrine
  • Ritalin and Dexedrine (ADHD medications that are highly addictive and have many negative side effects)
  • cocaine/crack

Psychedelics / Hallucinogens

  • many were originally used as anesthetics
  • MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly)
  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, acid, dots) – one of the most powerful psychedelics
  • 2C-B (synthetic psychedelic)
  • Ketamine (K, Special K) – a dissociative agent that produces a trance-like state and amnesia — often used as a “date-rape” drug
  • PCP (phencyclidine, angel dust, Love Boat, crystal joints) – both a stimulant and hallucinogen
  • psilocybin (magic mushrooms, shrooms) – psychedelic hallucinogen
  • DM (dextromethorphan) – an OTC cough suppressant often mixed with other substances
  • DMT (N-Dimethyltryptamine, N) – a naturally occurring hallucinogen

Sedatives and Depressants

  • prescribed for treating anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, sleep disorders
  • GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate – G, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid E, Gib, gamma-oh, cherry meth) — sometimes used to treat narcolepsy, and misused as a “date-rape” drug
  • benzodiazepines (benzos, many types) – sedative-hypnotics
  • Rohypnol / flunitrazepam (Mexican Valium, circles, roofies) – a potent sedative/amnestic — often a “date rape” drug
  • chloral hydrate – when mixed with alcohol, it is called a Mickey Finn and produces rapid unconsciousness — a.k.a. “slipping a Mickey”
  • quaaludes (methaqualone a highly addictive sedative often used as a “date-rape” drug
  • alcohol


  • substances inhaled for euphoric or dissociative effects
  • nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • alkyl nitrites (poppers)
  • hydrocarbons – inhalants from household products like glues, spray paint, gasoline, kerosene, or other solvents

Virtually any drug — including opioids and cannabis — is used in club settings, and often mixed with other drugs.

Club drug effects vary, depending on the drug used, the dosage, and if it is mixed with other drugs or alcohol. Since these are usually used at places where alcohol flows freely, the effects of club drugs can become quite serious, and possibly fatal.

Side Effects Of Club Drugs

Any side effect that one can imagine can occur with club drugs because of their sheer variety. Each class has its own risks, but here are some of the more general ones:

  • injuries from falls, impaired driving, or risky behavior
  • dehydration caused by the drugs, worsened by the physical activity and setting
  • overdose, possibly leading to hospitalization, permanent damage, or death
  • rape or sexual assault because of the dis-inhibition, amnesia, and setting
  • sexually transmitted diseases from shared needles or risky sexual behaviors
  • legal problems if the club is raided or for risky behaviors, including impaired driving

Users can never be sure of exactly what they are taking, or how much. Sellers often substitute other drugs, as the desired one may be too difficult to produce, or too expensive. Buyers may also be given a drug that is actually a date rape drug in the guise of another. To increase profits, dealers often cut their products with other drugs or chemicals, most of which would be unknown to the user. Many drugs also contain impurities (mold, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, etc.) from careless production techniques.

Since taking club drugs is essentially playing Russian Roulette, potential side effects can include:

  • Stimulants – rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, elevated body temperature, dizziness/fainting/unconsciousness, hallucinations, agitation, aggression, or seizures
  • Psychedelics/Hallucinogens – psychosis (hallucinations, paranoia), loss of physical coordination, difficulty speaking, agitation, or aggression
  • Sedatives/Depressants – dizziness/fainting/unconsciousness, low blood pressure, headache, dry mouth, blurred vision, agitation, aggression, amnesia, or suppressed respiration/breathing (possibly leading to loss of consciousness, coma, and death)
  • Inhalants – serious respiratory issues, possible death from suffocation, low blood potassium levels, or nerve damage

Are Club Drugs Addictive?

Almost all club drugs are addictive with repeated use and also have significant withdrawal effects or “hangovers” that include cravings, seizures, insomnia, nausea/vomiting, or dehydration.

Treatment For Club Drug Addiction

Fortunately, anyone with an addiction is capable of successful, long-term recovery with the proper help and their own efforts. Successful addiction treatment gives people the coping skills and knowledge to return to a healthy and productive life through physical detoxification, in-patient and outpatient therapy to address the root causes, and aftercare support to minimize the chances of relapse.

Why Choose Bridges Of Hope?

Bridges of Hope is a Joint Commission-accredited dual-diagnosis adult substance abuse treatment program. Our program is designed to achieve long-term recovery. We are licensed by the State of Indiana Department of Mental Health & Addiction.

Our treatment philosophy is based on a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing all issues related to substance use and mental health disorders. We leave nothing to guesswork as we utilize therapeutically proven, evidence-based clinical practices. We place superior patient care as our highest priority and offer them all-inclusive treatment services.

Mission Statement: We provide hope and healing for anyone with alcohol and substance abuse disorders.

We connect everyone to their own personal journey, bridging the gaps previously unmet.