Club drugs get their name because of the prevalence of their abuse in nightclubs, dance parties (known as “raves”) and their popularity among the young, “hip” partygoers of our youth culture. These drugs are generally synthetic, created not in nature but in a laboratory where natural substances are modified and repurposed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some of the drugs in this category include Rohypnol, GHB, methamphetamine and ketamine.
Why these drugs of such great concern? Perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of their abuse is the fact that many of them are created not in any laboratory, but in unregulated, clandestine labs that have no compunction about mixing dangerous chemicals with the drugs they produce in order to stretch their profit margin.
Methamphetamine Is Dangerous During and After Manufacture
In the old days, illicit drug manufacturers would set up clandestine labs to produce large quantities of methamphetamine for sale on the street. It was not uncommon to experience deadly fires in these unregulated labs, and the residual effects on the building required cleanup by a hazmat team of professionals. As the government cracked down on one of the main ingredients for the manufacture of this dangerous drug, pseudoephedrine, these types of labs decreased in number. However, there is a new and even more dangerous way to produce the club drug, called “shake and bake.”
This method places smaller amounts of the ingredients, which are readily obtained in local discount department stores, into a plastic bottle. Unfortunately, it is no less a fire hazard. What makes this method even more dangerous is that the lab is essentially held in the hands of the person manufacturing the drug. If the chemical composition isn’t exactly right, the bottle can explode.
While the process of making methamphetamine is highly dangerous, taking the drug for recreational purposes can be equally so. Methamphetamine is a stimulant that can increase body temperature, heart rate, and create long-term effects including anxiety, violent tendencies and insomnia. Because the drug tends to dry out the mouth, decreasing the bacteria-fighting properties of saliva, many individuals who abuse methamphetamines suffer from a condition known as “meth mouth.” This dental problem is antagonized by drug addicts’ propensity to grind their teeth as well.
Rohypnol: The Date Rape Drug
Rohypnol is a prescription medication legally available in other countries but not in the United States. It is a sleeping pill used for the treatment of insomnia, but in the US, it has a more sinister use. Known as a “date rape” drug, Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine that is often mixed with alcohol to render an individual incapable of fighting off attack. It also adds a benefit to the attacker in that the victim often has no recollection of what may have occurred while they were under the influence of the drug. The drug has no taste and no scent, however, manufacturers have recently added color to the pills so they will turn the liquid into which they are placed a blue color in an attempt to decrease the chances that an individual will fall victim to the drug.
The physical effects of Rohypnol – the effects that make it attractive to individuals who abuse this particular club drug – include:
- Decrease in inhibitions
- Enhances the effects of alcohol
- Long-lasting (up to 12 hours in some cases)
- Sometimes used to negate the effects of stimulants
- Feeling of being “drunk” with a lack of coordination and slurred speech
Because both Rohypnol and alcohol are sedatives, the risk of death due to overdose is increased as well. Death may be the result of aspiration or respiratory depression leading to coma.
Ecstasy: Penicillin for the Soul
In decades past, many psychologists praised the drug known as MDMA (known on the streets as “Ecstasy”) for its ability to break down barriers to the psychotherapeutic process. Their patients who ingested this drug seemed more willing to communicate about their issues and more likely to make strides in recovery process. Some members of the psychological community called MDMA “penicillin for the soul.” Unfortunately, this determination was made without any significant clinical trials on humans and the addictive properties of the drug weren’t fully understood. As the drug became widely available on the street, legally as it happened because there were no restrictions in place, the Drug Enforcement Agency placed a ban on the drug. This ban classified the drug as a Schedule I drug with no known therapeutic or medicinal benefits, on par with heroin and opium.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that the exact addictive properties and potential of Ecstasy vary. Some of those individuals who have abused Ecstasy report they experience some of the criteria required for a diagnosis of substance dependence, also known as addiction.
Why Won’t My Loved One Just Stop Using Club Drugs?
For anyone who does not suffer from the disease of addiction, the concept of stopping use of a drug when it is doing damage physically, socially and emotionally seems like an easy solution. It is easy to become angry and frustrated over an individual’s lack of control. In the past, and sometimes today, family members and others can see drug abuse and addiction as a weakness – a slight of character.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has established, however, that drug addiction is a bona-fide chronic disease that often requires lengthy, ongoing treatment to control. Because it is a chronic condition, there is no outright cure for addiction. Instead, as with other chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, lifestyle changes are required in order to regain control of one’s health.
For example, a person diagnosed with diabetes may have to drastically alter their diet in order to maintain blood sugar at a healthy level. Someone with hypertension, or high blood pressure, may also have to adjust their diet, as well as take measured steps to decrease the amount of stress in their life. Drug addiction is much the same. Someone who suffers from addiction may need to refrain from socializing with certain individuals who have exacerbated their drug abuse. They may need to address stress levels if their abuse of drugs is related to the amount of stress in their lives.
The difference between diabetes, hypertension and drug addiction lies in the stigma. When an individual has a spike in their blood pressure, they aren’t often met with cynicism or derision. Rather, their family may help them make the adjustments needed to increase their health. When a family member relapses and returns to using drugs, their family and close friends might see it as a failure of character rather than the mental health issue it really is.
Helping a Loved One Stop Club Drug Abuse
Studies have shown that an individual does not have to receive treatment voluntarily – they do not have to hit “rock bottom” – in order for the treatment to be effective. One way that you can help someone you love to overcome their addiction is to plan and carry out an intervention during which you offer your love and support should they choose to enter a recovery program. At the same time, you will be drawing a proverbial line in the sand to show them that you will no longer help them destroy themselves. When they see what they have to lose, it is possible they may choose recovery.
Planning and hosting an intervention can be a delicate and precise operation, however. To learn more about how you can intervene to help someone you love, please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. We are here 24 hours a day to take your call.