Club Drugs: What they can do to your Health

Club drugs are being used by young adults at all-night dance parties such as “raves” or “trances,” dance clubs, and bars. MDMA (Ecstasy), GHBRohypnol, ketamine, and methamphetamine are some of the club or party drugs gaining popularity. NIDA-supported research has shown that use of club drugs can cause serious health problems and, in some cases, even death. Used in combination with alcohol, these drugs can be even more dangerous.

MDMA (Ecstacy)

MDMA is an amphetamine that acts both as a CNS stimulant and as a mild hallucinogen. It is sold on the street and in clubs as Ecstasy and it is also known as” “E”, “X”, “XTC”, “Love”, or “Hug Drug”.

It is generally sold as a pill (click here for picture). The pill can have many other substances mixed with it (e.g. caffeine, dextromethorphan, ephedrine, and  pseudoephedrine, or potent hallucinogens such as LSD, paramethoxyamphetamine (PMA), methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), N-ethyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDEA), and 4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyamphetamine (2-CB). Many of these substances are “designer drugs” that are illicitly manufactured variants of pharmaceuticals and have intentional and unintentional effects (1).

Effects on your health:

  • It can damage the neurons in your brain, impairing your senses, memory, judgment, and coordination.
  • It increases your heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to heart or kidney failure.
  • Because ecstasy is illegal and often produced in makeshift laboratories, it is impossible to know exactly what chemicals were used to produce it and where it came from. How strong or dangerous any illegal drug is varies each time. Higher doses of ecstasy can cause severe breathing problems, coma, or even death.

GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate)

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is an illegal drug that is used as a muscle builder, a “party drug” and a “date-rape” drug. GHB, which is an anabolic steroid, acts as a powerful central nervous system depressant. In the 1980s, GHB was sold in health food stores and used by many bodybuilders and athletes to lose fat and build muscle. GHB has been given nicknames such as Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, and Georgia Home Boy. GHB is available as a liquid, a powder form or a pill.

In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of GHB except under the supervision of a physician.

Effect on your health:

  • It can damage the neurons in your brain, impairing your senses, memory, judgment, and coordination. People who use GHB people may experience nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, Aggressive behavior, Impaired judgment, breathing problems, Hallucinations, Seizures, come and dealth. Also, different amounts have different effects on people. In other words, no amount is safe.


Rohypnol, a trade name for flunitrazepam, belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. When mixed with alcohol, Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. It can produce “anterograde amnesia,” which means individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the effects of the drug. Also, Rohypnol may be lethal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants. It is also known as R-2, roofies, rophies, roaches, the date rape drug.

Effect on your health:

  • Rohypnol makes users very relaxed, confused, and “spaced-out.” It can take away all inhibitions, making people do things they ordinarily wouldn’t do. Enough rohypnol can make people pass out, and even slip into a coma if taken in combination with other drugs or in large doses.


Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride) is a central nervous system depressant that produces a rapid-acting dissociative effect. Ketamine is an anesthetic that has been approved for both human and animal use in medical settings since 1970; about 90 percent of the ketamine legally sold is intended for veterinary use. It can be injected or snorted. Ketamine is also known as K, Special K, Ket, Vitamin K, Kit Kat.

Effect on your health:

  • Certain doses of ketamine can cause dream-like states and hallucinations. In high doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.


Methamphetamine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that dramatically affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine is commonly known as “speed,” “meth,” and “chalk.” In its smoked form, it is often referred to as “ice,” “crystal,” “crank,” and “glass.” It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.

Effect on your health:

  • Methamphetamine releases high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement. It also appears to have a neurotoxic effect, damaging brain cells. Over time, methamphetamine abuse can result in symptoms like those of Parkinson’s disease, a severe movement disorder.
  • The central nervous system (CNS) actions that result from taking even small amounts of methamphetamine include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, hyperthermia, and euphoria. Other CNS effects include irritability, insomnia, confusion, tremors, convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, and aggressiveness. Hyperthermia and convulsions can result in death.
  • Methamphetamine causes increased heart rate and blood pressure and can cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, producing strokes. Other effects of methamphetamine include respiratory problems, irregular heartbeat, and extreme anorexia. Its use can result in cardiovascular collapse and death.


  1. Gahlinger PM. Club Drugs: MDMA, Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol, and Ketamine. Am Fam Physician 2004;69:2619-26,2627.
  2. Club –
  3. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration –
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse –

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