Club Drug Addiction

Club drugs take their name from the nightclubs and bars where they are commonly found, although these drugs are by no means restricted to these venues. While club drugs are commonly considered a particular class of drug, the category actually encompasses several different types of drugs, all with their own unique risks, side effects, and concerns.

In general, when addiction treatment professionals discuss club drugs, they are referring to 4 types of drugs. These are:

  • Hallucinogens
  • Dissociative Drugs
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA

We break down each type of drug in more detail below. Though they are each different chemical formulations, club drugs are addictive. Achieving sobriety from these drugs requires the support of experienced medical professionals and addiction treatment programs like the one here at Solution Based Treatment & Detox.

What are Club Drugs?

As noted above, club drugs refer to a series of different drugs that are commonly found and exchanged in social settings such as nightclubs, bars, and dance parties (sometimes called “raves”). Because club drugs are typically distributed on a person-to-person basis, it can be difficult to determine the exact chemical composition and purity of each individual drug. In general, though, club drugs fall into four main categories:

1. Hallucinogens

lsd pillsHallucinogens are a class of drugs, including LSD (also called “acid”) and psilocybin, which promote hallucinatory experiences and alter an individual’s sensory perception. When someone takes a hallucinogen, they may see or experience visions, sounds, movement, or their own body in ways that are not grounded in reality. These experiences can be frightening and disorienting and may trigger extreme emotional responses such as crying, laughing, or acting uncontrollably. You can read more about hallucinogens in this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

2. Dissociative Drugs

ketamineDissociative drugs are a type of drugs, including PCP and ketamine, which may cause individuals to “dissociate” from their body, feeling as though they can no longer move, think, or control their bodies in normal or expected ways. Individuals may react to this experience in multiple different ways, including becoming angry or violent, highly emotional, or still and catatonic. You can read more about dissociative drugs in this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

3. Methamphetamine

methamphetamineMethamphetamine is a stimulant drug that speeds up the nervous system, causing individuals to talk, move, and stay more active than normal. Though methamphetamine itself is a drug that is used recreationally beyond nightclubs and bars, it remains popular for people seeking a boost of energy in social settings. Unfortunately, methamphetamine brings a host of dangerous side effects, including increased heart rate and blood pressure and high body temperature. You can read more about methamphetamine in this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

4. MDMA (Ecstasy)

mdma pillsMDMA (also called Ecstasy) is a popular synthetic drug that helps some individuals feel the temporary sensation of increased energy, excitement, and heightened perspective. As a manufactured drug, MDMA is unregulated, highly potent, and sometimes mixed with other chemicals. Use of MDMA can lead to a series of dangerous side effects including an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and possible brain damage and memory loss. You can read more about MDMA in this report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Club Drugs and the Brain

Since each club drug is slightly different, they each affect the brain in different ways. We’ve broken down each drug’s effect on the brain below.

Hallucinogens Effects On the Brain

  • In general, hallucinogens affect the brain by changing the way we perceive and process information through a portion of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex. These drugs “scramble” the way information is processed in the brain, leading us to see, hear, or experience images, sounds, and sensations that are not present. Unlike other drugs that produce a somewhat predictable experience, hallucinogens affect different people in different ways and can be severely stressful and anxiety-provoking in some individuals.

Dissociative Drugs Effects On the Brain

  • Dissociative drugs affect the brain’s release of chemicals that help us process our thoughts, regulate our emotions, and understand information from the outside world. As a result, these drugs may make individuals feel like they are no longer inside their own bodies or have little connection to the world around them. Unfortunately, because of these drugs’ disruptive qualities, individuals may also struggle with lost memories, anxiety and stress reactions, and inability to move while taking these drugs.

Methamphetamine Effects On the Brain

  • Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug. Like cocaine, it enters the brain and stimulates the production of dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical that produces pleasure and can increase activity in the body. Unlike cocaine, however, methamphetamine lasts much longer in the body, meaning that its effects are more potent and longer-lasting, as well. This means that the drug interacts with the brain longer than cocaine and can increase the risk of brain damage, among other physical side effects.

MDMA (Ecstasy) Effects On the Brain

  • MDMA prompts the brain to release a variety of chemicals that temporarily alter an individual’s emotions, energy level, and sense of well-being. Unfortunately, MDMA causes the brain to release such high levels of these chemicals that individuals can experience severe emotional and mental challenges after consuming the drug, in addition to the physical side effects of the drug on the body.

Club Drug Abuse Signs & Symptoms

If you or a loved one frequently take club drugs for any purpose, it’s critical to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of addiction to these drugs. Again, because each of these drugs is slightly different from the other, we’ve included a list of common signs and symptoms for each drug below.

Signs of Hallucinogen Abuse

  • Increased anxiety, stress reactions, or jumpiness
  • Volatile emotional states
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty moving or loss of coordination
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Persistent hallucinations
  • Paranoid behavior or actions

Signs of Dissociative Drug Abuse

  • Loss of feeling throughout the body
  • Confusion or challenges in understanding speech
  • Difficulty remembering events
  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Anxiety, stress, fear, or panic
  • Combining with other drugs, including alcohol

Signs of Methamphetamine Abuse

  • Ongoing emotional volatility
  • Anxiety, stress, or panic
  • Propensity to violence
  • Persistent hallucinations
  • Difficulty making decisions or learning
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Dental issues (also called “meth mouth”)

Signs of MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse

  • Frequent dehydration
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Disinterest in food or eating
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Persistent headache
  • Binge use of drug
  • Increased risk of heart disease

If you suspect someone you know may be suffering from an addiction to club drugs, seek out support from a medical professional or addiction treatment program.

Club Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal can occur when an individual decides to stop taking a drug, either because they want to cut back on their drug use or they no longer have access to the drug. In most cases, individuals will experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms as the body becomes accustomed to no longer having the drug in the bloodstream and brain. These symptoms can be dangerous or even life-threatening, so it’s critical to seek support from a medical or addiction recovery professional beforehand.

Common withdrawal symptoms for club drugs include:

  • Emotional volatility
  • Anxiety, fear, or depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Exhaustion
  • Severe cravings for the drug of choice
  • Persistent hallucinations
  • Increased sweating
  • Flu-like symptoms (chills, runny nose, headache)

Medical and addiction treatment professionals can help support individuals as they go through the withdrawal process, including providing oversight and support to ensure a comfortable and safe detoxification period.

Treatment for Club Drug Addiction

While club drug use can involve a wide variety of different drugs, treatment is possible. Most treatment providers will begin with an assessment of an individual’s current drug use to determine which combination of drugs they are currently using.

Since each client requires a carefully-monitored detoxification period followed by personalized treatment, providers need to have an in-depth understanding of each individual’s substance use patterns and history. From there, reputable providers will develop a personalized treatment plan which will likely include therapies including:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Relapse risk reduction
  • Addiction education
  • Life skills training
  • Medication-assisted treatment (when appropriate)

If you or a loved one are struggling with club drug addiction, don’t lose hope. At Solution Based Treatment & Detox, we work closely with each of our clients to develop a plan of care that meets their needs and goals. Contact us today to get started.

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