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Club Drugs

What is it?

"Club drugs" is a categorical term used to describe the various types of drugs most commonly used by teenagers and young adults in party type environments such as bars, nightclubs, and concerts. Examples of club drugs are MDMA (ecstasy), GHB, ketamine, rohynol, LSD, and methamphetamine.

What does it do?

In Iowa, the most common club drugs are methamphetamines and MDMA. The percentage of adults and juveniles admitted to substance abuse treatment programs who identify methamphetamines as their primary substance of abuse reached an all-time high in 2016. Of the 47,309 clients served by Iowa treatment centers this year, 17.6 percent of them identified meth as their primary substance of abuse. Only marijuana (25.1 percent) and alcohol (47.1 percent) ranked higher in the state.

Side effects

Each category of the club drugs effects the brain and the body differently.  MDMA and Methamphetamine are both stimulants, MDMA is a drug synthetically (man-made) produced and chemically is structured similarly to methamphetamines, both substances effect the brain and body similarly causing increased attention and fatigue, increased activity and wakefulness, euphoria, rapid/irregular heartbeat and hyperthermia.  LSD (acid) is a hallucinogen that changes the perception (awareness of environment and thoughts/feelings) that can cause hallucination or delusions. 

Effects on the Brain

Each of the club drugs can alter the structure of the brain, causing significant problems for the person that used them. This can occur with repetitive use, or even one use. Methamphetamine commonly causes significant anxiety, insomnia, mood disturbances, paranoia and even psychotic symptoms, such as visual and auditory hallucinations. Research has shown that hallucinogens such as LSD and ketamine can cause speech problems, memory loss and depression.  All of the club drugs affect the normal functioning of the human brain; for example, methamphetamines have been strongly shown to interrupt the normal functioning of the dopamine system, which is designed to support our experiences of pleasure.  Abnormal functioning of the dopamine system can impact our abilities to experience enjoyment and happiness. 


 Club drugs include GHB, Rohypnol, ketamine, MDMA, methamphetamine and LSD. There are numerous nicknames for each type of club drug, but the most common are: MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly), methamphetamine (meth, speed, crank, Christina, Tina), LSD (acid, sunshine), and GHB (“G” or “Gina”). 

  • Club Drugs Overview and links from Medline Plus.

  • Club Club drugs can cause serious health problems and, in some cases, even death. Used in combination with alcohol, these drugs can be even more dangerous. From the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

  • Club and Date Rape Drugs How to protect yourself. Palo Alto Medical Foundation site.

  • Ecstasy (MDMA) Information for teens from NIDA.