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The dangers of club drugs MDMA, GHB, Rohypnol and ketamine

Club drugs have become increasingly dangerous and popular since the early 1990s. High school and college students alike have easy access to club drugs such as MDMA, GHB, Rohypnol and ketamine. Many people are finding pill form drugs such as these online, at clubs, parties, raves, on the street or from friends or drug dealers. Due to the fact they are colorless, odorless and tasteless, these drugs can be added to people’s beverages without them knowing it. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), raves have the highest availability of “club drugs”.

MDMA (Ecstasy/XTC) 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine

MDMA is considered a club drug throughout the United States that has taken on a dangerous categorization of being a “safe” and even a “health conscious” drug. Some common street names for MDMA are “molly” and “liquid ecstasy”. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 5.6 percent of high school seniors reported trying MDMA in 2014. MDMA is classified as a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration due to having no currently accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse and a severe psychological and physical dependence.

MDMA is deadly and can also cause serious health issues such as organ failure and apoptosis (Montiel-Duarte 2002). Fatalities resulting from the drug can be from cardiac arrest, brain seizure, rhabdomyolysis (the damage of skeletal muscle tissue) and disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is when the blood doesn’t clot and can result in uncontrollable bleeding (Henry et al., 1992; Hall and Henry 2006). Studies show that long term use of the drug can cause on-going problems with memory, attention, depression and confusion.

Other side effects of MDMA use include a lost sense of time, altered perception of things like sight, smell and touch, feeling faint and having a heightened sense of emotion.

GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate)

GHB is a central nervous system depressant that is usually referred to as a “date rape drug”or “liquid ecstasy”. GHB is very dangerous and is not only taken as a party drug by teens and college students, but is also used to drug unsuspecting people. Studies show there have been various incidences of GHB drugging across the nation in college dorms, clubs, raves and parties that adolescents attend.

GHB was legal in the United States up until 1990 when the federal government declared its use, manufacture and distribution illegal due to illnesses it had caused. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, there were 3’340 emergency room visits in 2001 for GHB use. Effects of GHB use can include loss of inhibitions, amnesia, unconsciousness, seizures, respiratory depression, coma, nausea and hallucinations.

Rohypnol “roofies”

Rohypnol is a brand name for Flunitrazepam that has similar properties to those of Valium (diazepam); however, it hasn’t been approved for legal use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is currently used as a short-term treatment for insomnia. Rohypnol is also used as a “date rape drug”, as it causes partial amnesia and would prevent any assault or rape victim from remembering the attack. Rohypnol tablets can be crushed, dissolved in liquid or snorted. When high doses are taken with other drugs or alcohol, the results can be deadly. Signs of Rohypnol use can include intoxication, slurred speech, impaired judgement, sedation and difficulty walking.


Ketamine is an injectable anesthetic that is generally used for veterinary purposes and has been referred to as “special k” or “vitamin k”. Studies show that ketamine is considered to be associated with HIV and sexually risky behaviors and is deadly if taken in large doses. An estimated 2.3 million teens and adults aged 12 or older used ketamine in their lifetime (NSDUH 2014).

Symptoms of ketamine use can include delirium, amnesia, poor memory and poor cognitive retention. Ketamine use can also cause depression, high blood pressure, respiratory problems and impaired attention span.


Much like both prescription and illicit drugs, it is possible to overdose on club drugs. Signs of a possible overdose can include rigid muscles, extreme changes in body temperature, extreme changes in heart rate or a coma.


Recovering from an addiction to club drugs is difficult, as there is a physical, psychological and emotional impact on anybody that withdraws from certain drugs. There are 12-step groups that one can attend, as well as rehabilitation group therapy and individual psychotherapy sessions. Inpatient or outpatient attendance can be beneficial to anybody who has an addiction to ‘club drugs’ or any drug.

If you would like more information on where and how you or a loved one can receive proper treatment for an addiction to club drugs such as GHB, ketamine, MDMA or Rohypnol, you can call the Recovery Helpline at 855-441-4405.

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