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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency as well as its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

Facts About…
Club Drugs


What is it called?

What does it look like?

How is it used?

Analog of Fentanyl (Narcotic)

Synthetic heroin, China white

White powder

Inhaled, injected

Analog of Meperidine (Narcotic)

MPTP (New heroin), MPPP, synthetic heroin

White powder

Inhaled, injected

Analog of Amphetamines or Methamphetamines (Hallucinogens)

MDMA (Ecstasy, XTC, Adam, Essence), MDM, STP, PMA, 2, 5-DMA, TMA, DOM, DOB, EVE

White powder, tablets, or capsules

Taken orally, injected, or inhaled

Analog of Phencyclidine (PCP)


White powder

Taken orally, injected, or smoked

The term club drugs refers to a wide variety of drugs often used at all-night dance parties (raves), nightclubs, and concerts. Some names for the wide variety of drugs are:
1.) Ecstasy, also known as E, X, XTC.
2.) GHB, also known as Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid X, Grievous Bodily Harm, Georgia Home Boy.
3.) Ketamine, also known as K, Special K, Ket, Vitamin K, Kit Kat.
Club drugs can damage the neurons in your brain, impairing your senses, memory, judgment, and coordination. 
4.) Rohypnol, also known as Roofies, R-2.

The most widely used club drugs are

1.) Ecstasy. Also known as MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), Ecstasy is a stimulant that combines the effects of amphetamines and hallucinogens.

2.) Rohypnol. Known as the “date rape drug,” Rohypnol is a central nervous system depressant that produces sedative-hypnotic effects, muscle relaxation, and amnesia.

3.) Ketamine. A rapid-acting general anesthetic, ketamine produces a wide range of feelings, from weightlessness to out-of-body or near-death experiences.
4.) GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate). Originally available over the counter in health food stores to aid body builders, GHB and other synthetic steroids are also used for their euphoric effects.

5.) LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). This hallucinogen produces unpredictable effects, depending on the amount taken, the surroundings in which the drug is used, and the user’s personality, mood, and expectations.

Research has shown that club drugs can have long-lasting negative effects on the brain, especially on memory function and motor skills. When club drugs are combined with alcohol, the effect is intensified, and they become even more dangerous and potentially fatal.

Different club drugs have different effects on your body. Some common effects include loss of muscle and motor control, blurred vision, and seizures. Club drugs like ecstasy are stimulants that increase your heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to heart or kidney failure. Other club drugs, like GHB, are depressants that can cause drowsiness, unconsciousness, or breathing problems.

Club drugs like GHB and Rohypnol are used in date rape and other assaults because they are sedatives that can make you unconscious and immobilize you. Rohypnol can cause a kind of amnesia—users may not remember what they said or did while under the effects of the drug, making it easier for others to take advantage of them.

Because club drugs are illegal and often produced in makeshift laboratories, it’s impossible to know exactly what chemicals were used to produce them and where they came from. How strong or dangerous any illegal drug is varies each time. Higher doses of club drugs can cause severe breathing problems, coma, or even death.

Pathfinder’s Checklist
How club drugs affect you.

1.) Club drugs affect your brain.
2.) Club drugs affect your body.
3.) Club drugs affect your self-control.
4.) Club drugs can kill you.

How can you tell if a friend is using club drugs? Sometimes it’s tough to tell. But there are signs you can look for. If your friend has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may be using club drugs:

Pathfinder’s Checklist
Possible signs that a friend or loved is consuming club drugs.

1.) Problems remembering things they recently said or did
2.) Loss of coordination, dizziness, fainting
3.) Depression
4.) Confusion
5.) Sleep problems
6.) Chills or sweating
7.) Slurred speech

Pathfinder’s Checklist         
What you should know about club drugs.

1.) Know the law. It is illegal to buy or sell club drugs. It is also a federal crime to use any controlled substance to aid in a sexual assault.
2.) Get the facts. Despite what you may have heard, club drugs can be addictive.
3.) Stay informed. The club drug scene is constantly changing. New drugs and new variations of drugs appear all of the time.
4.) Know the risks. Mixing club drugs together or with alcohol is extremely dangerous. The effects of one drug can magnify the effects and risks of another. In fact, mixing substances can be lethal.
5.) Look around you. The vast majority of teens are not using club drugs. While ecstasy is considered to be the most frequently used club drug, less than 2 percent of 8th – 12th graders use it on a regular basis. In fact, 94 percent of teens have never even tried ecstasy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Club Drugs

Q. If you were in a club and somebody slipped a club drug into your drink, wouldn’t you realize it immediately?
A. Probably not. Most club drugs are odorless and tasteless. Some are made into a powder form that makes it easier to slip into a drink and dissolve without a person’s knowledge. That is why some of these drugs have been called “date rape” drugs—because there have been increasing reports of club drugs being used in sexual assaults.

Q. Are there any long-term effects of taking ecstasy?
A. Yes. Studies on both humans and animals have proven that regular use of ecstasy produces long-lasting, perhaps permanent damage to the brain’s ability to think and store memories.

Q. If you took a club drug at a rave, wouldn’t you just dance off all of its effects?
A. Not necessarily. The stimulant effects of drugs like ecstasy that allow the user to dance for long periods of time, combined with the hot, crowded conditions usually found at raves, can lead to extreme dehydration and even heart or kidney failure. In addition, some of ecstasy’s effects, like confusion, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and sleep problems, have been reported to occur even weeks after the drug is taken.

Club Drugs:  Ecstasy

In developing prevention efforts that target young people, prevention managers must design strategies to counter the increasing use and widespread availability of the club drug Ecstasy. Known as “the party drug,” Ecstasy is both a stimulant and a hallucinogen, and its effects are potentially life-threatening.

Because it is inexpensive and easily accessible, Ecstasy is gaining in popularity. As reported in the Monitoring the Future Study (National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA] 1999), 3.6 percent of 12th graders, 3.3 percent of 10th graders, and 1.8 percent of 8th graders said they had used the drug in 1998. From 1991 through 1998, use by college students increased from 0.9 percent to 2.4 percent and by adults, from 0.8 percent to 2.1 percent (NIDA, Facts About MDMA, 2000).

What Is Ecstasy?

Ecstasy is the street name for methylene-dioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a chemical substance that combines methamphetamines with hallucinogenic properties. It is also known as X-TC, Adam, Clarity, and Lover’s Speed.

Like all club drugs, Ecstasy is a combination of other illicit drugs. Because many different recipes are used to make Ecstasy, the risk of death and permanent brain damage are heightened when some substances are combined. It is available in tablet, capsule, or powder form; some manufacturers of the drug package it in capsules or generic tablets to imitate prescription drugs. The average cost is between $7 and $30 per pill.

Among the variations of the drug is a new substance, Herbal Ecstasy, that is composed of ephedrine (ma huang) or pseudoephedrine and caffeine from the kola nut. Sold in tablet form, this drug may cause permanent brain damage and death (NIDA, Club Drugs: Just the Facts, 2000).  

What Side Effects Are Produced by Ecstasy?

Ecstasy’s effects can last up to 24 hours. The drug produces immediate side effects, and some—such as confusion, depression, sleep problems, anxiety, and paranoia—can occur weeks after it is taken (NIDA, Community Drug Alert Bulletin on Club Drugs, 2000).

Because Ecstasy alters serotonin levels in the brain, researchers have found that chronic use can lead to long-term or permanent damage to those parts of the brain critical to thought, memory, and pleasure (NIDA, Facts About MDMA, 2000).

Psychological Effects

Psychological effects are confusion, depression, sleep problems, severe anxiety and paranoia, euphoria, enhanced mental and emotional clarity, hallucinations, sensations of lightness and floating, depression, paranoid thinking, and violent, irrational behavior.

Physical Effects

Physical effects are muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, chills/sweating, dehydration, hypertension, loss of control over voluntary body movements, tremors, reduced appetite, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, seizure, and malignant hyperthermia (increase in body temperature).

Club Drugs: GHB, an Anabolic Steroid

Anabolic steroids, one type of club drugs being used by young people, are gaining in popularity because of their euphoric, sedative, and bodybuilding effects. Despite research that has shown a decrease in most drug use—including crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and cigarette smoking—the 1999 Monitoring the Future survey found a significant increase in the use of anabolic steroids among 8th and 10th graders, primarily boys (NIDA, Monitoring the Future, 1999.)

Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of the male hormone testosterone, which promotes skeletal muscle growth. The most popular anabolic steroid among young people is GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate). GHB used to be widely available for medical purposes. The illicit use of GHB rose to such levels that the 106th Congress called the drug “an imminent hazard to the public safety.”  Congress amended the Controlled Substances Act in January 2000 to a national awareness campaign, led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the attorney general, targeting GHB’s use and effects. (NCADI, accessed 7/12/2000.)

What Is GHB?

GHB is a central nervous system depressant once used by many bodybuilders and athletes. In the 1980s, GHB was widely available over the counter in health food stores, and bodybuilders used it to lose fat and build muscle. GHB has been given nicknames such as Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, and Georgia Home Boy.

In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of GHB except under the supervision of a physician because of reports of severe side effects, including euphoric and sedative effects similar to the effects experienced after taking Rohypnol (the “date rape” drug.) GHB also has been associated with sexual assaults in cities throughout the United States (NIDA, Infofax.)  Despite the ban on use, GHB is created in clandestine laboratories, in a variety of forms, including clear liquid, white powder and tablet. Increasing use rates are being reported. In 1998, the Denver Poison Control Center received 33 calls involving GHB, and almost half of these cases were considered life-threatening. (NIDA Infofax-Club Drugs, 2000.) Because it clears from the body relatively quickly, it is often difficult to detect when patients go to emergency rooms and other treatment facilities.

What Are the Side Effects of GHB?

Like most steroids, GHB can cause high blood pressure, wide mood swings, liver tumors, and violent behavior. The drug’s effects typically last up to 4 hours, depending on the dosage. At lower doses, it can relieve anxiety and promote relaxation; at higher doses, the sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death. Other side effects include sweating, headache, decreased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, impaired breathing, loss of reflexes, and tremors.

Club Drugs: Ketamine

The use of Ketamine, one of the more popular club drugs, is increasing among teenagers and young adults throughout the United States. Because of its anesthetic properties, Ketamine is considered to be one of the “date rape” drugs, substances that can be slipped into a person’s drink to render him or her unconscious.

The 1997 Monitoring the Future Study found that increased Ketamine use has been reported in many cities, including Miami, New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Detroit (NIDA, 2000). In the spring of 1997, Congress classified Ketamine as a drug with a high abuse potential and the possibility of creating severe physical or psychological dependence (NCADI, 2000).

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride) is a central nervous system depressant that produces a rapid-acting dissociative effect. It was developed in the 1970s as a medical anesthetic for both humans and animals. Ketamine is often mistaken for cocaine or crystal methamphetamine because of a similarity in appearance (NCADI, 2000).

Also known as K, Special K, Vitamin K, Kit Kat, Keller, Super Acid, and Super C, Ketamine is available in tablet, powder, and liquid form. So powerful is the drug that, when injected, there is a risk of losing motor control before the injection is completed. In powder form, the drug can be snorted or sprinkled on tobacco or marijuana and smoked (Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 2000). The effects of Ketamine last from 1 to 6 hours, and it is usually 24–48 hours before the user feels completely “normal” again.

What Are the Side Effects of Ketamine?

Psychedelic effects are produced quickly by low doses (25–100 mg) of Ketamine. Higher doses
(1 gram or more) can cause convulsions and death (NCADI, 2000). As with most anesthetics, eating or drinking before taking Ketamine can produce vomiting. Other reported side effects are:

Physical effects: slurred speech, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, lack of coordination, muscle rigidity, bronchodilation, respiratory distress, paralysis, increased cardiac output (leading to risk of heart attack or stroke), coma, and death.

Psychological effects: hallucinations, dreamlike states, feelings of invulnerability, psychological near-death experiences, paranoia, and aggressive behavior.

Club Drugs:  Rohypnol

Rohypnol, one of the most popular club drugs used by today’s youth, is gaining widespread attention because of its sedative-hypnotic effects. The term, “club drugs,” refers to a wide variety of potentially dangerous substances being used by young people at college campus fraternities, dance clubs, bars, and all-night dance parties.  Known as the "date rape" drug, Rohypnol can incapacitate a victim and prevent her or him from resisting sexual assault. Parents, community leaders, and prevention managers must be aware of the impact of this drug not only on users but also on victims, who may ingest the drug unwittingly.

Although it is prescribed in England and 26 other countries for treatment of insomnia and presurgical sedation, the use of Rohypnol is illegal in the United States. A report by the Community Epidemiology Work Group of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (NIDA, 1995) found that the use of Rohypnol was increasing in the United States among high school and college youth.

What Is Rohypnol?

Rohypnol, the trade name for flunitrazepam, is a member of the benzodiazepine family, which includes Valium, Halcyon, Xanax, and Versed. These drugs are known for their sedative effects. On the street, Rohypnol is called roofies, rophies, roche, and the forget-me pill.

Manufactured in tablet form, Rohypnol can be easily crushed and dissolved in liquid. It is tasteless and odorless, and can thus be slipped into people's drinks without their knowledge. A single dose of Rohypnol, as small as 1 mg., can produce effects  for 8-12 hours after ingestion.

Some young people use Rohypnol to enhance the highs produced by heroin, as well as to ease the negative effects of a crack or cocaine binge. Similar to using alcohol, many young adults may drive while under the influence of rohypnol.  These users may not only be endangering their lives—and the lives of others—but they may also avoid “drunk driving” charges since the drug’s presence cannot be detected by routine benzodiazepine screens.

What Are the Side Effects of Rohypnol?

Among the immediate effects of taking Rohypnol are feelings of intoxication, muscle relaxation, and drowsiness. Users under the influence may exhibit slurred speech, impaired judgment, and difficulty in walking. The drug causes “anterograde amnesia,” whereby individuals are unable to remember events they experienced while under its effects.

Other adverse effects of Rohypnol include respiratory distress, blackouts that can last up to 24 hours, decreased blood pressure, hallucinations, dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances, urinary retention, headaches, and muscle pain. Some users may display aggressive behavior.

Rohypnol can produce physical and psychological dependence. As a result, chronic users can experience withdrawal effects and seizures. When used in combination with alcohol and other depressants, Rohypnol can be fatal.



Recover from chemical dependency as well as its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.

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