Across the United States, certain drugs can be commonly found at house parties, raves, clubs, and bars. Colloquially, these are referred to as “club drugs” or, “party drugs.” Club drugs include different categories of chemical substances and types of drugs, many of which are illegal.
There are a few club drugs that are more common than others. In recent years, media influence has helped to showcase celebrities using drugs in movies and on television, validating and normalizing drug use. However, conversely, the media also enabled stars to discuss their struggles with drugs publicly, serving as a warning to others considering or engaging in drug use.
What Are Party Drugs?
Club drugs are usually psychoactive, meaning that they act on the brain and have effects on a person’s behavior. Some factors that club drugs usually have in common are:
- They change a person’s awareness of their surroundings
- They make people act differently from how they normally do
- They change a person’s mood
Hallucinogens come from plants or are synthetically produced. These drugs can give users a psychedelic “trip” that includes a few different effects, including:
- Making time appear to stand still
- Making colors appear to change
- Hallucinations and changes in perception
Side effects include of hallucinogen consumption include:
Although dying from consuming hallucinogens are rare, death can occur if the hallucinations instigate dangerous behavior. However, some hallucinogens, like ketamine, can cause serious overdose symptoms, including death.
Ecstasy is one of the most common club drugs. It is usually available as a colorful tablet. Besides the psychedelic effect of most hallucinogens, ecstasy can also produce an energizing effect. Ecstasy is illegal in the United States. Ecstasy is known by multiple street names, like:
Lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, has been a popular rave drug for decades. LSD is often taken as a strip, which looks like a little piece of paper. The drug itself is “printed” onto the strip of material. LSD is illegal in the United States. Street names for LSD include:
- Mellow Yellow
Psilocybin mushrooms are usually eaten, but can be brewed in teas and are often combined with other drugs. These types of mushrooms are illegal in the United States. Street names for psilocybin mushrooms include:
- Magic mushrooms
Ketamine is commonly used as an anesthetic at veterinary clinics and is classified as a controlled substance in the United States. Ketamine comes as a liquid or powder. Short-term effects of ketamine include temporary amnesia and immobility. Due to these risks, ketamine is a common date rape drug. Ketamine use can also cause a deadly overdose. Street names for ketamine include:
- Special K
- Kit Kat
Salvia is a plant and member of the mint family. It is often chewed or smoked to give users a brief (compared to other hallucinogens) trip. Salvia is illegal in some states in the United States. Nicknames for salvia include:
- Maria Pastora
Hallucinogens in the Media
Movies and television shows often glorify hallucinogen use and make it seem fun. Ecstasy use, in particular, has been shown in a wide variety of entertainment franchises like “Sex and the City,” “Family Guy” and “White Chicks.”
Alcohol is one of the most frequently used and abused drugs. In 2015, almost 27% of people over the age of 18 reported that they engaged in binge drinking at least once in the previous month. More than 15 million people in the United States struggle with alcohol use, yet less than 7% receive treatment.
Alcohol in the Media
The media spreads the message that alcohol is normal to use in social settings. Billboards, commercials and magazine ads are only part of the problem. Celebrities often live out their struggles with alcohol in the public eye.
Actor Daniel Radcliffe has been open about his problems with drinking. He became a star at a young age and turned to alcohol to help relieve stress. Fortunately, he has since stopped drinking and publicly discusses his commitment to sobriety. However, not all celebrities have been as lucky. Singer Amy Winehouse struggled with alcohol for years before dying of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.
Marijuana is a drug from the Cannabis sativa plant that can be smoked to give users a feeling of relaxation and mellowness. Although some states in the United States have legalized its use, it is still illegal federally. Marijuana can be addictive and lead to memory problems. Street names for marijuana include:
- Mary Jane
Marijuana in the Media
Marijuana is often the drug of choice in Hollywood comedies that leave protagonists in unwitting drug-induced dilemmas. Among the many movies where marijuana is used for this purpose include “The Big Lebowski” and “Dazed and Confused.”
Inhalants are chemicals that are breathed in to create a short-lived high. People sometimes spray the chemical on fabric and then “huff” it, or spray the fumes into a bag and then breathe it in to “bag” it. Inhalants are often otherwise legal and inexpensive household items, including:
- Air dusters
- Whipped cream spray
- Permanent markers
- Household cleaners
Inhalants offer a brief period of feeling high. For that reason, users will often inhale repeatedly. Unfortunately, because inhalants contain chemicals, doing so can be very dangerous and can even lead to death. Nicknames for inhalants include:
Inhalants in the Media
Inhalant use has been shown in movies as an easy way to get high, including the movies “Taxi” and “Thirteen.” Some YouTubers have also recorded themselves getting high on inhalants.
Because of their capacity to increase energy and focus, stimulants are popular among partygoers. They are sometimes referred to as “uppers.” These drugs work by quickly speeding up the parts of the brain that are involved with alertness, causing a rush. People who take stimulants often do so to:
- Get more energy
- Have a sense of exhilaration
- Stay awake
- Experience higher self-esteem
Side effects of stimulants include:
- Feeling dizzy
- Pounding heart or chest pain
- Flushed skin
Because stimulants speed up the brain and central nervous system, overdosing can be deadly. Stimulants can also be highly addictive. Therefore, many stimulants are either illegal or controlled substances.
Adderall is the brand name for amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall is a controlled substance prescribed to help people with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD). Adderall is usually taken as a tablet. The drug is meant to help people better focus on everyday tasks. However, due to its stimulating properties, people sometimes use it illegally without a prescription to stay focused for school or work and to party without getting tired. Street names for Adderall include:
- Black Beauties
Ritalin is the brand name for methylphenidate. Like Adderall, Ritalin is a controlled substance used to treat ADHD. Also, like Adderall, it is consumed orally and is often used illegally to increase energy. Street names for Ritalin include:
- Vitamin R
Caffeine is a legal and widely available drug that is usually considered safe. However, caffeine can be dangerous when it’s mixed with alcohol or other drugs. Some people mix alcohol with high-caffeine beverages like energy drinks. The problem is that caffeine blocks the receptors in the brain that tell people that they are drunk. Therefore, if you drink alcohol mixed with caffeine, a person may be much drunker than they think they are. The United States banned sales of pre-mixed alcohol and caffeine in 2010 due to hospitalizations from alcohol poisoning. However, people can still order alcohol and caffeine drinks at bars or combine them themselves at home, both of which lead to safety concerns.
Cocaine is a drug from plants grown in South America. Cocaine has some medical use in the United States but its street use is illegal. Cocaine is usually snorted or injected. Signs of cocaine use include bursts of energy and talkativeness. Street names for cocaine include:
Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a synthetic drug with limited medical use in the United States. It is a controlled substance sold under the brand name Desoxyn for obesity and ADHD. However, most meth is made and sold illegally on the street. Meth can be swallowed, smoked, snorted or injected. Street names for meth include:
Stimulants in the Media
Stimulants are powerful drugs that have hampered many Hollywood careers. Before he became Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. struggled with cocaine and meth. Singer Fergie, tennis star Andre Agassi, and actress Jodie Sweetin also struggled with meth addiction. Cocaine addiction is also believed to have contributed to singer Whitney Houston’s death.
Date Rape Drugs
Some party drugs are used to incapacitate a victim and facilitate sexual assault. Usually used in pill and powder form, these drugs can be easily mixed into an unsuspecting person’s drink at a party.
Common date rape drugs include:
- Rohypnol – Probably the most widely known date rape drug, commonly referred to as “roofies,” takes about 30 minutes to kick in. Rohypnol is the brand name for the benzodiazepine flunitrazepam. Rohypnol causes the victim to behave as if they are drunk, and they can even lose consciousness. The effects of roofies last for several hours. Victims often wake up the next day with no recollection of events following using the drug. Rohypnol is illegal in the United States but is legal in many other countries and is often illegally imported.
- Ketamine – This hallucinogenic drug acts quickly to put the victim into a dream-like state in which they feel detached from reality. If assaulted, they may not be aware of the fact that they are being raped. Ketamine is classified as a controlled substance in the United States.
- Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB – Also known by the brand name Xyrem, GHB is used in medical settings as a general anesthetic but its use is otherwise illegal. GHB takes about 15 minutes to kick in and its effects last for up to six hours. People drugged with GHB often do not recall what happened after being drugged.
- Xanax – Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine. Xanax can cause memory loss and sedate victims. It takes effect on the central nervous system in less than 30 minutes. With a large enough dose, a victim may even blackout. Xanax is classified as a controlled substance in the United States.
Date Rape Drugs in the Media
Some celebrities came forward after realizing that their drinks may have been spiked with drugs. Rapper Eve spoke of her realization that her drink had been spiked at a party. Actress Rebel Wilson also came forward on Twitter, stating that her drink had been spiked while she was out at a club.
If you or a loved one live with a substance use disorder that originated from the casual use of club drugs, or any other source, contact The Recovery Village to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can help. You deserve a healthier future, call today.
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U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Club Drugs.” Accessed Mary 5, 2019.
Silman A. “21 Times TV and Movies Convinced Us MDMA Was a Good Idea.” Thrillist, December 14, 2015. Accessed Mary 5, 2019.
Drug Enforcement Agency. “Drugs of Abuse.” June 16, 2017. Accessed May 5, 2019.
Doty M. “9 Best Marijuana Moments in Movies, From ‘The Big Lebowski’ to ‘Dazed and Confused’.” The Wrap, April 20, 2019. Accessed May 5, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Alcohol and Caffeine.” October 23, 2018. Accessed May 5, 2019.
Scott, P. “From Washed-up Drug Addict to the $100m Man: How Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr Turned his Life Around from Prison and Cocaine.” Daily Mail, May 24, 2013. Accessed May 5, 2019.
Marikar S. “Andre Agassi Tops List of Celebs Addicted to Meth.” ABC News, October 28, 2009. Accessed May 5, 2019.
Chicago Tribune. “Extent of Cocaine Use Revealed in Official Houston Autopsy Report.” April 4, 2012. Accessed May 5, 2019.
All 4 Women. “Eve Opens up About Having her Drink Spiked.” April 10, 2018. Accessed May 5, 2019.
Puente, M. “Rebel Wilson Tweets: ‘My Drink Was Spiked’ at Trendy Club.” USA Today, March 11, 2016. Accessed May 5, 2019.
Henderson C. “Daniel Radcliffe Says he Used Alcohol to Manage the Unmagical Bits of ‘Harry Potter’ Fame.” USA Today, February 20, 2019. Accessed May 5, 2019.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol Facts and Statistics.” Updated August 2018. Accessed May 5, 2019.