‘Club drugs’ is a term sometimes used to refer to recreational drugs but specifically those drugs that you might get offered in the clubs at a toilet and which many people will use as a way to try and enhance their enjoyment of a night out. ‘LSD’ then is a recreational drug, but it is not a ‘club drug’ as the effects are not conducive to being out clubbing.
While these club drugs might have effects that can be perceived as interesting or as ‘fun’, they are all dangerous and harmful. Certainly if not for their own effects, then for the fact that you are buying them from an unknown source that has no guidelines or testing – meaning that you might be in fact ingesting horse tranquilizer or any other substance. Apart from anything else they are also highly illegal and you can face serious penalties for engaging in their use.
So club drugs are in fact not ‘fun’ drugs – at least not after the effects have worn off and reality has set back in. That doesn’t mean they’re not interesting however, and understanding just what they are and how they have the effects they do on the brain is something that many people will want to learn. Here we will look at club drugs and how they work.
Methamphetamine (‘Speed’ or ‘Meth’)
This is a highly addictive stimulant – stimulant meaning that it stimulates the body and the brain in much the way that caffeine does but of course to a higher degree. Specifically meth will stimulate many brain systems, and works in a similar way to amphetamine – only the effects are greater as meth is synthetic. This results in an increased mental and physical performance – much like a morning cup of coffee but times ten – which occurs immediately after the drug has been ingested (usually methamphetamine is smoked or injected intravenously for the stimulating effects). However this ‘rush’ lasts only a few minutes. Another way to use meth is by snorting or eating it – which results in a euphoria or pleasurable high but not as intense a rush. However after the rush, the nervous system will remain stimulated for 24 hours.
However following the high users will tend to feel exhausted, depressed and lethargic. At the same time there is a strong chance of physical and psychological dependency, and over time users will need larger doses to achieve the same high. Repeated use can also place strain on the nervous system and the circulatory system.
Often meth is used alongside ‘protease inhibitors’ as these can increase the potency of the dosage. However this increases the chance of overdose which can be fatal.
Ecstasy (or ‘MDMA’)
The chemical name for ecstasy is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine – or ‘MDMA’ – and this is a synthetic (laboratory made) psychoactive drug. As the inclusion of the word ‘amphetamine’ in the name suggests, this too has stimulant properties, but also includes hallucinogenic effects. The slang term ‘ecstasy’ is used in order to describe the intended effects – which are to create a euphoric and positive state which lasts for several hours. This is why it is often used in clubs.
The drug is not physically addictive and it has few known side effects. However for many people MDMA can nevertheless take on an important role in the lives of users which causes them to become psychologically addictive. Many individuals will use the mood-enhancing effects of MDMA in order to self medicate for depression – and they will gradually require more and more to achieve the same kinds of moods. Ironically, extended use of MDMA can actually damage the serotonin receptors in the brain (serotonin being the brains natural anti-depressant) resulting in it being far more difficult for individuals to feel happy naturally – in other words it can cause depression.
Ketamine (‘K’, ‘Special K’, ‘Super Acid’)
Ketamine is a non-barbiturate rapid acting dissociative anesthetic which has the effect of separating perception and sensation. Taken as either an intravenous injection or tablet or smoked or snorted, ketamine can create a feeling of detachment and extra-sensory perception. As a powerful anesthetic it can also stop the user from feeling pain which can be dangerous if it leads to their harming themselves. Again this can also be used as a way to self medicate – the sense of detachment being used as a way for the user to escape their everyday problems. At the same time it can also damage the liver and cause jaundice, while other long-term effects have not yet been studied. In overdose you can disk shutting down the central nervous system, and there are many dangerous interactions with other drugs.