A wave of new drugs has become increasingly popular with today’s adolescents and young adults.These drugs are commonly known as club drugs, a term originating from the rave phenomenon. Many club drugs are also called designer drugs, referring to the fact that many of the drugs are man made (for example, Ecstasy or ketamine) rather than found in or derived from nature (for example, marijuana or opium derivatives).
Methamphetamine, also known as crystal, meth, crystal meth, ice, tina and crank, is an amphetamine derivative with similar stimulant properties. Methamphetamine highs can last up to 20 hours; heavy users may stay awake for several days. Additional health risks include heart attacks, strokes, weight loss, malnutrition, fluid buildup in the lungs and death. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. For more information about methamphetamine, please see the “Meth” entry under Types of Addiction/Drugs.
Ecstasy is the street name for the hallucinogenic methamphetamine derivative methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). First used in psychiatric patients, it became a popular recreational drug because of its hallucinogenic effects. Other street names for ecstasy include X, E, XTC, Adam, M&M, bean, roll, clarity and essence. It gained popularity in the 1980s and can now be purchased on the street alongside other street drugs like cocaine and heroin. For more information about Ecstasy, please see the “Ecstasy” entry under Types of Addiction/Drugs.
Ephedrine: Ephedrine is a stimulant similar to amphetamine and is found naturally in the Chinese herbal medicine “ma-huang” and in “Mormon’s tea.” College students and truck drivers use it for its stimulant effect. Incorrectly viewed as a safe alternative to amphetamines, this “herbal ecstasy” has been associated with strokes and deaths in adolescents.
Ritalin: Ritalin (generic name, methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant known on the street as vitamin R, R-ball and skippy. This drug is used to manage attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants are the primary drugs used in treatment of this disorder and are effective 90% of the time. In the 1990s, the prevalence of methylphenidate use increased by 250% compared to the 1980s, but its use has somewhat declined in the past 10 years. For more information about Ritalin,please see the “Ritalin” entry under Types of Addiction/Prescription Drugs.
Phencyclidine (PCP): PCP is also known as angel dust, Love Boat, lovely, elephant tranquilizer, crystal, crystal joints (CJs), TAC, hog and the sheets. In large overdoses, symptoms can last from 24-48 hours.The dissociation can resemble schizophrenia. An overdose can produce high blood pressure, hostility and alterations of body images. These unintentional actions have resulted in people jumping from heights. Neurologic signs, such as uncontrolled eye movements, inability to maintain balance and difficulty speaking, may also occur. Users may lose consciousness (pass out) with large doses. For more information about PCP, please see the “PCP” entry under Types of Addiction/ Drugs.
Ketamine: Ketamine, also known as special K, K,vitamin K and fort dodge, is a derivative of PCP (a powerful psychedelic drug) that has become increasingly popular. Although the long-term effects of ketamine abuse have not been well studied, it is suggested that out-of-body experiences may recur evenwithout additional use of the drug. Psychosis (severe mental instability) from chronic use may occur.
Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB,is a hypnotic depressant known on the street by several names: easy lay, Georgia home boy, liquid X, liquid ecstasy, liquid E, grievous body harm, Gib, G-riffic, natural sleep-500, gamma-oh, cherry meth, scoop, soap, salty water, organic Quaalude, fantasy, sodium oxybate, somatomax and gamma hydrate. GHB is perhaps most commonly known as the date-rape drug. Effects of the drug begin 15-60 minutes after use and typically last up to six hours. Respiratory depression can be severe enough to require life support on a ventilator or breathing machine until the drug effects wear off.
Rohypnol (generic name, flunitrazepam), a potent benzodiazepine (a class of tranquilizing agents), is known as Mexican Valium, circles, roofies, la rocha, roche, R2, rope and forget-me pill. Adverse effects include low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion, visual disturbances, inability to urinate fully and in some users, aggressive behavior. Dependence on flunitrazepam can occur. Withdrawal produces symptoms such as headache, tension, extreme anxiety, restlessness, muscle pain, light sensitivity, numbness and tingling of arms and legs, and even seizures.
Inhalant abuse is also increasingly popular in adolescents and young adults. An inhalant is a vapor you breathe in and may be liquid or gases.
Nitrous oxide: This is an inhalant used in whipped cream chargers and dispensed into balloons. Known as whippets, abusers inhale nitrous air through the balloon. Nitrous oxide has anesthetic effects and may give a high from breathing the low oxygen content in the balloon. Sudden death has been reported from breathing air with low oxygen content. Other dangers include producing air bubbles in the lungs and chest and rupture of the eardrums. Chronic abusers may develop nerve damage.
Hydrocarbons: Inhalants are often ingredients in household products such as paint cans and air fresheners. Hydrocarbons can be abused by huffing, bagging or sniffing. Huffing involves inhaling vapors from a cloth soaked in hydrocarbons. Bagging is inhaling a hydrocarbon that was sprayed into a bag. Finally, sniffing is direct inhalation of the hydrocarbon from its source. Hydrocarbons commonly produce euphoria, drunkenness, sedation and low brain oxygen levels. They can cause brain damage and sudden death.
Other Club Drugs
Chloral hydrate: A sedative, the combination of chloral hydrate and alcohol, known as a Mickey Finn, produces rapid loss of consciousness. This action of placing chloral hydrate into an alcoholic beverage of someone else without their knowledge is referred to as “slipping a Mickey.” In addition to sedative brain effects, chloral hydrate also lowers a person’s ability to breathe, irritates the gastrointestinal tract and interrupts the normal beating of the heart. Mild use is similar to alcohol intoxication (drowsiness and unsteadiness). With increased use, chloral hydrate can cause death, usually from heart disturbances.
Dextromethorphan: An over-the-counter cough suppressant, dextromethorphan has gained popularity as a drug of abuse because of its structural similarity to PCP and morphine derivatives. It is also known as DM, Robo and Robo shots. Dextromethorphan is a depressant that can produce a high with hallucinations similar to those of PCP at larger doses. Almost two four-ounce bottles of over-the-counter cough suppressant must be ingested to reach these doses.
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