The Risks of Party Drugs

Be Aware of Club Drugs—Our Teenagers Are!

Young people at a dance club in Vladivostok. Credit: Aaron Huey / Contributor / Getty Images

This is a guest feature from the White House National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.

Raves, nightclubs, bars, dances and parties are places young people go for fun and good times. But today's fun places often carry an added dimension of danger and risk: The use of Ecstasy, Roofies, Georgia Home Boy and Special K—all street names for club drugs. Kids are using club drugs at raves and parties to get high, and the drugs are sometimes given with the intent of date rape.

Parents know they need to talk to their kids about drugs, but club drugs are a dangerous and growing problem with new and sometimes changing names that many parents don't know about.

The Names and Dangers of Many Club Drugs

Because the physical effects are mild in the beginning, many kids think club drugs are "fun drugs" and are harmless. One of the biggest dangers is that club drugs are created in illegal laboratories, and are often contaminated with life-threatening additives, so the user doesn't know what he or she is taking.

Here's what parents should know and communicate with their kids about general risks of taking club drugs.

Ecstasy (MDMA) 
Other slang names: XTC, Adam, Clarity, Hug Drug, Lover's Speed 
Ecstasy, usually taken as a tablet or capsule, creates feelings of euphoria, alertness and energy, and it while on it, users can party and dance for extended periods. Using ecstasy may lead to dehydration, high blood pressure, and heart and kidney failure.

Frequent use can cause long-lasting damage to brain cells that may affect memory. After the high is over, users often feel depressed and take more drugs to extend the high.

GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate)
Other slang names: Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy
GHB sedates the central nervous system.

At high doses it can slow breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. Overdose of GHB can occur quickly and is characterized by drowsiness, nausea, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, and impaired breathing.

Special K (Ketamine)
Other slang names: K, Vitamin K, Cat Valiums
Ketamine is an anesthetic that can be used safely only in medical settings. However, some young people abuse ketamine by taking dangerously high doses, which can cause dream-like states and hallucinations. At high doses, ketamine can cause amnesia, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems.

Roofies (Rohypnol®, flunitrazepam)
Other slang names: Rophies, Roche, Forget-me Pill
Rohypnol is used in other countries as a sedative and a treatment for insomnia. It is tasteless, odorless and dissolves easily in carbonated beverages. It causes profound memory loss and has been used in sexual assaults. Other effects include decreased blood pressure, dizziness, confusion and drowsiness.

What Parents Can Do

Remember, you don't have to know the answer to every question your kids ask.

One of the most important things you can do is just to start an ongoing dialogue about drug abuse.

For more tips on talking to your child about drugs, visit the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign's Web site at The site offers a brochure, "Keeping Your Kids Drug-Free: A How-To Guide for Parents and Caregivers," which may also be ordered by calling (800) 788-2800.

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