What Are Party Drugs?
All across the nation, many of the same drugs can often be found at house parties or raves at clubs. Colloquially, these are referred to as club drugs (or party drugs), which include different categories of drugs.
Although there is no hard-and-fast “club drugs list” that covers everything your teen may encounter at a party, there are a few that are more common than others. In recent years, media influence on teens — especially social media — has only helped to showcase how celebrities use drugs at social events, giving an unfortunate validation to drug-related behavior.
Hallucinogens are drugs that offer users a “trip” that involves hallucinations — seeing or experiencing things that are not real. A teen who takes these drugs at a party quickly becomes out of touch with reality, risking engaging in dangerous behaviors.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) has been a popular rave drug for decades. This drug is taken as a “strip,” which looks like a little piece of paper. The drug itself is “printed” onto the strip of material. Symptoms of LSD use include hallucinations, extreme trembling and heart racing. Teens often resort to using LSD slang to talk about the drug with peers. Some street names include “acid” and “L.”
Psilocybin mushrooms are powerful, triggering drug-induced spiritual experiences and disordered perception. Even small doses can cause a strong and unpredictable intoxication. They are usually eaten, but can be brewed in teas, and are often combined with other drugs. Nicknames for the drugs include “shrooms” and “magic mushrooms.”
Ketamine is commonly used as an anesthetic at veterinary clinics. But it is distributed and used at parties to trigger staggering out-of-body experiences. Other short-term effects of ketamine include temporary amnesia and immobilization. Because of these risks, ketamine is among the most common date rape drugs. Nicknames for ketamine include “K” and “special K.”
Salvia is a member of the mint family and is consumed to give users a brief hallucinatory experience. Being high on salvia can keep your teenager on a trip that lasts for around 30 minutes. Salvia affords teens powerful temporary effects without eating into their partying time too much. Salvia sometimes serves as a gateway into other hallucinogens. Nicknames for salvia you may have heard include “magic mint” and “Sally-D.”
Hallucinogens in the Media
What a teenager is exposed to in the media can have an impact on how they view drug use and resistance. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone showed up to the 2000 Oscars while they were high on hallucinogenic drugs. Eleven years later, the two comedy writers appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and copped to the fact that they were tripping on LSD at that event. It was an unfortunate move for them to admit this, because role models’ use of hallucinogens can validate the same behavior in teens.
Among teens, alcohol is the most frequently used and abused drug. Despite the legal drinking age set at 21, it is often quite easy for teens to acquire alcohol. If they can’t come up with a fake ID to make a purchase at a store, they can often turn to their own homes — in refrigerators and kitchen cabinets. At parties, teens engage in party games that involve consuming large quantities of alcohol. This is called “binge drinking” — it’s one of the deadlier risks of teen alcohol abuse.
Alcohol in the Media
The media proliferates the message that alcohol is normal — even cool to use — in social settings. Billboards and magazine ads are only half the problem. Celebrities often serve as poor role models, living out their struggles with alcohol in the public eye.
Daniel Radcliffe — of Harry Potter fame — has been open with the media about his struggle with alcoholism. He became an international superstar at the young age of 12, turning to alcohol to help alleviate the stresses of his life. Fortunately, he has since stopped drinking, publicly discussing his commitment to sobriety.
Marijuana is a plant that can be smoked to give users a feeling of relaxation and mellowness. In some instances, marijuana can trigger feelings of paranoia, but it is still smoked and shared regularly at parties. In recent years, laws regarding the use of the drug have been loosened in the U.S. Legal to use or not, the addictive properties of marijuana are real and can impact your child if they begin to use habitually. To keep marijuana use a secret, teens often refer to drug with nicknames — the most popular ones are still “weed” and “bud.”
Marijuana in the Media
Marijuana is often the drug of choice in Hollywood comedies that leave protagonists in unwitting drug-induced dilemmas. With its increasing legality across the U.S., the impression is that the drug is harmless and not dangerous. But like any drug, marijuana’s mileage may vary with your teen.
In recent years, Brad Pitt has opened up about marijuana usage when he was younger. He has spoken out about how his habitual marijuana use may have spurred his much-discussed bout with depression. In 2012, he told The Hollywood Reporter, “I was doing the same thing every night and numbing myself to sleep — the same routine: Couldn’t wait to get home and hide out.” He has since renounced the drug.
Inhalants are a variety of drugs that are inhaled — or “huffed” — in order to attain a short-lived high. Inhalants are inexpensive and incredibly easy for teens to acquire since they are often simple household items — including whipped cream containers, permanent markers, bleach and other cleaning substances. Inhalants are sometimes called “rush drugs” because they offer a brief period of feeling high before the user comes “back down.” Among the most serious side effects of inhalants are blackouts and tremors. Nicknames for inhalants include “whippets” or “nitrous.”
Inhalants in the Media
Inhalants are easy to access in most cases, making it a quick fix for a user craving a high. In recent years, celebrities have fallen victim to the drug. England’s Prince Harry has made rounds on tabloids and news outlets for his use of inhalants. And in 2012, actress Demi Moore was hospitalized when she had a seizure due to abuse of the drug. She recovered by opting to undergo rehab and fully committing herself to the process.
Cocaine is usually snorted as a powder, the effects of which can be profound. Visible signs of teen cocaine use include bursts of energy and talkativeness, which makes it a popular drug of choice for teens at clubs or parties. Cocaine is referred to by different nicknames, the most popular of which are “coke” and “blow.”
Cocaine and Celebrities
The act of snorting cocaine is ubiquitous on television and in the movies. The drug has derailed many promising careers, including those of actor Chris Farley and singer Whitney Houston — both dying of cocaine overdose. There have also been success stories of recovery, however. In 2010, singer Bruno Mars was arrested on felony charges for his cocaine, but has since avoided any drug-related trouble. Actress Drew Barrymore rebounded from a very public cocaine addiction during her teenage years; drug rehab has helped her recover and sustain a successful career as a sober adult.
Ecstasy is among the most common drugs at clubs and parties. Teens turn to ecstasy because of the discreetness of the drug’s pill and capsule forms — in contrast to alcohol, which may be more difficult for teens to secretly consume in a public setting. Signs of ecstasy use include extreme happiness and friendliness, which can drive teens into compromising situations. More serious risks include hallucinations and paranoia. Teens often refer to ecstasy as “E,” “X” or “molly.”
Ecstasy in the Media
Ecstasy is often the drug of choice for celebrities who want to loosen up at a social event. Actress Melissa Joan Hart recently confessed that she took the drug to help her relax before a Playboy Mansion party in 1999. In recent years, singer Miley Cyrus admitted that it’s ecstasy she hints at when she references “dancing with Molly” in her hit single “We Can’t Stop.” The drug continues to be passed around at social events because of its quick, short-term effects.
Because of their capacity to increase a user’s energy and focus, stimulants are very popular among partygoers. These drugs work by impacting certain parts of the brain that are involved with alertness. Popular types of stimulants include Adderall and Ritalin, two drugs prescribed for ADHD symptoms but often abused by teens who seek out the drugs’ effects.
Adderall is a prescription oral medication frequently prescribed to assist patients diagnosed with ADHD. It is intended to help users better focus on everyday tasks. However, due to its stimulating properties, teens often use this drug non-medically — to stay focused for school and to party without getting tired. To be discreet, you may hear your child refer to Adderall as “addys” or “uppers.”
Yet another ADHD medication that gets abused by both medical and non-medical users, Ritalin is an oral medication that offers its users increased energy and a minor “high.” Teens keep their Ritalin use a secret by calling the drug “Vitamin R” and “R-ball.”
While caffeine is most often thought of as what’s ingested every morning via coffee, teens can develop caffeine dependencies by abusing large amounts of the drug at social events. Some beverage manufacturers offer this substance in the form of energy drinks. It’s when caffeine is mixed with alcohol and other drugs that the effects of caffeine lead to serious harm.
Methamphetamine is an especially damaging stimulant, and is currently the most heavily abused synthetic drug on the market. The drug gives users a euphoric experience of bursts of energy and pleasure. Side effects of teenage meth abuse have been described as similar to those of cocaine, but are much more pronounced and lingering. Many meth users undergo stark facial weathering and aging, both of which are dramatic effects of the drug. Teens often call methamphetamine “meth” or “crystal.”
Stimulants in the Media
Meth is a powerful drug that has hampered many Hollywood careers. Most recently, actress Lindsay Lohan’s rap sheet and her turn in tabloid fodder have been influenced by the effects of meth and other drugs. Initially arrested in 2010 on drug and DUI charges, she was ordered by a court of law to undergo treatment. The well-publicized case showed the powerful and painful impact of the stimulant methamphetamine. The actress has had continued struggles with the drug, but tweeted her commitment to a “clean, fresh start” in 2015.
Date Rape Drugs
Some party drugs are used to incapacitate a victim and facilitate sexual assault. Usually in pill and powder form, these drugs can be easily mixed into an unsuspecting person’s drink at a party.
The most common date rape drugs are as follows:
- Rohypnol – Probably the most widely known date rape drug, “roofies” takes about 30 minutes to kick in. The drug causes the victim to behave as if they are quite 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.
- Ketamine – This dissociative drug acts quickly to put the victim into a dream-like state, in which they feel detached from reality. If assaulted, they may even not be aware of the fact that they are being raped.
- GHB – Used in medical settings as a general anesthetic, the depressant gamma hydroxybutyric acid takes about 15 minutes to kick in, and its effects last for about three hours. Those who have been drugged with GHB often do not recall what happened after being drugged.
- Xanax – Xanax is a benzodiazepine medication can induce amnesia 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 black out.
Does My Child Need Help?
If you’ve discovered that your child has abused any illicit substances, it’s time to step in. When substance use begins early, addiction becomes a more likely outcome. At the first signs of this behavior, talk to a local addiction counselor, or call our hotline at TheRecoveryVillage.com. We can advise you on the situation, and answer any questions you may have about teen substance abuse and recommend next steps for you. It’s free to call, and everything we discuss will be kept private.
If substance abuse has devolved into addiction, often the best way to combat it is with an individualized rehab program. Fortunately, your family has a number of substance abuse treatment options to choose from, and your family doctor can help you decide which will work best. In some cases of addiction, treatment at a residential facility is necessary. In others, outpatient therapy may suffice. Only a professional can determine the most beneficial option for your child.
Your teenager’s health is too important to ignore. Take the first step towards wellness for your teen by calling our team at TheRecoveryVillage.com. One of our professional treatment advisors will pick up the phone, and can offer as much or as little help as you want. Your child’s future is in your hands — don’t leave it to chance.
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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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