“The data are clear that it’s moved out of the club scene. We are now seeing the drugs used by everybody. Parents can’t just say, “My kid doesn’t go to clubs, so I don’t need to worry about it.””
~Alan Leshner, former head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Since the 1970s, there has been an association between nightclubs, discotheques, and dance parties and drugs, actually resulting in the creation of a subculture. Certain recreational drugs are used by partygoers to enhance their experience – especially euphoriants and stimulants.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular party drugs:
MDMA, a.k.a. “Ecstasy”, “X”, “E”, “XTC”, or “Molly”
Ecstasy is by far the most popular party drug, used by up to 29 million people worldwide. Users take Ecstasy because it produces euphoria, promotes empathy with others and makes the music and lights at a club more enjoyable because it heightens the senses.
Some adverse effects of ecstasy include:
- Increased body temperature
- Muscle cramping
- Profuse sweating
The increase in body temperature can be significant enough as to be dangerous, potentially fatal.
Some of the social dangers of ecstasy include higher incidence of unprotected sex and its use as a date rape drug. When it is slipped into someone’s drink unaware, they could become impaired enough to not be able to give reasoned consent.
Methamphetamines, a.k.a. “Speed”, “Ice”, or “Crank”
Methamphetamine is popular in the club scene because it increases endurance – abusers can stay active longer – and because of its supposed benefits as an aphrodisiac. About one-and-a-quarter million Americans used methamphetamines within the past year.
Dr. Mary Holley said, “The effect of an IV hit of methamphetamine is the equivalent of 10 orgasms, all on top of each other, lasting for 30 minutes to an hour, with a feeling of arousal that lasts for another day and a half.”
The downside is that within six months, the person’s sex drive is dead, except when they are on the drug.
Methamphetamine is also very dangerous, both in terms of addiction risk and in terms of how it physically and psychologically harms abusers:
- Extreme paranoia
- Mood disturbances
- Uncontrollable repetitive motor activity
Cocaine – a.k.a. “Coke”
After marijuana, cocaine is the second-most used illegal drug in the world, with up to 21 million users annually. Within the party scene, cocaine is popular for its stimulant properties and for its reputation as an aphrodisiac. However, as with methamphetamines, chronic cocaine abuse impairs sexual function.
Other dangers of cocaine abuse include:
- Elevated body temperature
- Blood vessel constriction
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Bowel decay
- Speeds up HIV infection
Prescription Stimulants – Adderall and Ritalin
These drugs, which are usually prescribed for addicted-deficit conditions, are now being increasingly used by college students as study aids and for their stimulant effects during parties and raves. Ritalin is even referred to as “kiddie cocaine”.
The dangers of prescription stimulant abuse are:
- Respiratory problems – destruction of the nasal and sinus cavities
- Toxic shock
- Stimulant psychosis
Ketamine Hydrochloride – a.k.a. “Special K”, “Vitamin K”, or “Cat Valium”
Ketamine is an anesthetic, but it is used as a recreational drug for its sedating effects. In large doses, Kevin can produce a hallucinatory out-of-body experience. Because of the associated confusion and amnesia, ketamine is also frequently used as a date rape drug.
Some of the hazards of ketamine abuse include:
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Low blood pressure
- Intracranial hypertension
- Double vision
- Depressed respiration
It is this last hazard that is the most problematic, because ketamine interacts strongly with other drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates. It is very possible to die while drinking and using ketamine.
Amyl nitrates – a.k.a. “Poppers”
Inhalants such as amyl nitrates are popular as a pre-sexual activity enhancement. They cause lightheadedness that increases sexual enjoyment. Originally, they were only popular among homosexual men, but the use has spread.
Popper abuse carries several hazards, including:
- Heart attack
- Vascular collapse
- Eye damage
MDPV – a.k.a. “Bath Salts”
This loose group of synthetic drugs, with innocuous-sounding names such as “Blue Silk”, “Cloud Nine”, and so on, is anything but safe. Sold online or in head shops, bath salts are stimulants that are 10 times more powerful than cocaine. They are extremely toxic and use can result in serious adverse effects:
- Panic attacks
- Extreme paranoia
- Violent behavior
LSD – a.k.a. “Acid”
First synthesized in 1938, LSD is an extremely powerful hallucinogen. It distorts perceptions, which can give a dream-like appearance to a club environment. Users feel as if they interact with the music and the lights in a more personal way.
One of the biggest dangers of LSD use is the inability to perceive personal danger. A person “tripping” on acid can be very susceptible to serious injury or even death.
Furthermore, a person who has taken LSD can experience profound depression or anxiety, even months later. It is even possible to relive the LSD experience even when not taking the drug, and this flashback can happen without warning.
Mephedrone, a.k.a. “Diablo”, “Meow Meow”, or “Eric 3”
Mephedrone is another synthetic stimulant used for its euphoric qualities – elevated mood, enhanced appreciation for music, and sexual stimulation. Regular users say that it is a more enjoyable high than cocaine.
Despite its reputation as a “safe” alternative to other illicit drugs, mephedrone can still be dangerous if the user has any underlying health conditions. It can also interfere with a person’s decision-making process, to the point that they use other drugs in unsafe combinations.
There have been deaths reported in Europe and in the United States that suggest that mephedrone may interact dangerously with other illicit drugs, specifically, opioids.
25I-NBOMe, a.k.a. “Legal LSD” or “N-Bomb”
This synthetic drug first began showing up in 2012, often sold as real LSD. It is an extremely potent psychedelic drug, and users usually report more negative experiences than they do with actual LSD.
- Extreme visual and auditory hallucinations
- Kidney damage
Since its introduction, there have been approximately 2 dozen deaths in the United States associated with 25I-NBOMe.
Most of the drugs mentioned are taken to enhance pleasurable aspects of the club scene, but when inhibitions are lowered and judgment is impaired, increased danger is the outcome. Parents of teenagers and young adults should be attentive, because these drugs have left the nightclubs and dance halls and are now increasingly found at private parties.