Though so-called club and party drugs are not especially dangerous compared to substances like opioids, the circumstances in which they tend to be consumed presents some serious dangers.1,4 Here, we’ll explore why this diverse set of substances can be especially risky, especially to naive individuals who just want to have a good time. To learn more about your options for drug and alcohol treatments in North Texas, contact our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers.
What are Club Drugs?
Club drugs, also known as “party drugs” as a class of drugs that are, unusually, primarily defined by their specific use case, which is in the contexts of clubs, bars, raves, house parties, and other similar venues and gatherings. 2,3,4
Virtually any drug could be defined as a party or club drug. The popularity of specific substances as party drugs tends to be dependent on the region and prevailing fashions of the time. However, a few substances have been especially associated with the terms “party drug” or “club drug”. Examples of substances that are often thought of as such include the following: 1,2,3,4
- Ketamine (Special K, Ket, etc.)
- LSD (Acid)
- MDMA (Molly, Ecstasy, Eks, etc.)
- GHB (Liquid Ecstasy)
- Ayahuasca (Huasca etc.)
- DMT (Dimitri, The Rogan, The Spirit Molecule)
- Psilocybin (Shrooms, Magic Mushrooms)
- Flunitrazepam (Roofies)
These are just some of the more enduring substances that tend to fall under the club drug category. However, these are not the only substances that are considered to be party or club drugs.
Dangers Associated With Club Drugs
The way club drugs are sold and used presents several serious risks to users. This includes but is not limited to the following:3,4,5,6
- Misrepresentation of substances. It’s not unusual for people who sell illicit substances to intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent their wares and this seems especially the case for club drugs. For instance, pills that are being sold as MDMA could easily be some other stimulant substance like Adderall or amphetamines. Other times, the actual substance may have a different than the intended effect from what the purported drug has. In either case, it may cause the person using the substance to miscalculate the real risks involved.3,4
- Unpredictable drug quality. Related to the above danger is the fact that street drugs are often adulterated to maximize profits. Club drugs are no different and they may be sold under novelty names that hide the types of ingredients in them. As with other illicit drugs, club drugs are often adulterated with cheaper drugs that have similar effects to the advertised substance or with potentially toxic chemicals that only look visually similar to the “real” substance.3,4
- Increased risk of substance-mixing. Because of the above reason as well as the settings where they are often used, there is an increased risk of substance-mixing when using club drugs. These drugs are often taken in bars and house parties where alcohol and other substances like cocaine and cannabis may also be present. Substance-mixing can lead to unpredictable interactions which can often be more dangerous than taking just one substance.3,4
- Increased overdose risk. The risks of substance-mixing, unpredictable drug quality, and false advertising combine to create a more serious overdose risk for people using party drugs. A high proportion of overdose deaths are linked to the type of substance use associated with club drugs. Many of these are connected to the unintended consumption of fentanyl, a potentially lethal synthetic opioid.1,3,4
- Increased risk of accidents and injury. As club drugs are often used away from the home in a club or house party setting, individuals who use these substances often have to drive or commute back home after using. Doing this while dealing with the effects of drug-mixing can greatly increase the risk of getting into serious accidents.3,4
- Increase in risky sexual behavior. Evidence points to several popular club drugs increasing the prevalence of risky sexual behavior. This often happens through a combination of the substances lowering inhibitions as well as due to the expectations in venues where such substances are often consumed.3,4,6
How to Reduce Your Risk From Club Drugs
The safest thing to do is to not take club drugs at all. However, some things you can do to reduce your risk when taking club drugs include the following:7
- Stick to one substance at a time — including alcohol.
- Be educated about the effects of different club drugs.
- Leave if you are not in a safe environment with people you trust.
- Do not drive home. Take an Uber or a taxi.
- Learn what to do in case of overdose.
- When possible, use a testing kit to ensure you are getting the substance you expect.
Find Help for Club Drug Misuse
Club drugs are far more dangerous than many people simply looking for a good time realize. Not only do they increase the immediate risk for harm, but regular use of these substances can also easily turn into a substance use disorder.
If you or a friend have problems with the use of these drugs, please seek the opinion of a qualified mental health professional. Contact us at +1(214) 935-2287 to discuss treatment options in the Dallas- Fort Worth area as well as the wider North Texas region.
- S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration., & U.S. Office of the Surgeon General. (2021). National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Club Drugs.
- Maxwell, J. C. (2005). Party drugs: properties, prevalence, patterns, and problems. Substance use & misuse, 40(9-10), 1203-1240.
- Freese, T. E., Miotto, K., & Reback, C. J. (2002). The effects and consequences of selected club drugs. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 23(2), 151-156.
- Parsons, J. T., Grov, C., & Kelly, B. C. (2009). Club drug use and dependence among young adults recruited through time-space sampling. Public Health Reports, 124(2), 246-254.
- Mattison, A. M., Ross, M. W., Wolfson, T., Franklin, D., Neurobehavioral, H. G. S. D. H., Center, R., … & Wolfson, T. (2001). Circuit party attendance, club drug use, and unsafe sex in gay men. Journal of substance abuse, 13(1-2), 119-126.
- Frei M. (2010). Party drugs – use and harm reduction. Australian family physician, 39(8), 548–552.