Club drug

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The pulsating lights, brightly colored projected images and massive sound systems used at rave dances enhance the experience of using club drugs such as LSD and MDMA.

Club drugs, also called rave drugs, or party drugs are a loosely defined category of recreational drugs which are associated with discothèques in the 1970s and dance clubs, parties, and raves in the 1980s to the 2000s.[1] Unlike many other categories, such as opiates, which are established according to pharmaceutical properties, club drugs are a "category of convenience" which includes drugs ranging from entactogens and inhalants to stimulants and psychedelics. Dancers at all-night parties have used these drugs for their stimulating or psychedelic properties. "Club drugs" vary by country and region; in some areas, even opiates such as heroin have been sold at clubs, though this practice is relatively uncommon.[2]


An impure tablet sold as MDMA seized by law enforcement in the United States. The tablet was determined to contain no MDMA; instead, it contained a mixture of BZP, methamphetamine, and caffeine.

Examples of drugs typically categorized as club drugs include MDMA (ecstasy), various amphetamines and the depressant GHB (also a date rape drug) and the dissociative anesthetic ketamine. 'Poppers' is the street name for a group of simple alkyl nitrites (the most well-known being amyl nitrite), which are clear, yellow volatile liquids which are inhaled for their intoxicating effects. Nitrites originally came as small glass capsules that were popped open, which led to the nickname "poppers." The drug became popular in the US first on the disco/club scene of the 1970s and then at dance and rave venues in the 1980s and 1990s. The "club drugs" vary by country and region. In Delaware, heroin (and many other drugs) are sold at clubs and at raves. Though far less common than other "club drugs" like MDMA, ketamine, or LSD, heroin can be found in some of New York's clubs.

Although the previously mentioned selection of drugs are generally categorized as club drugs by the media and the United States government, this distinction probably does not have an accurate correlation to real usage patterns. For example, alcohol is generally not included under the category of club drugs, even though it is probably used more than any other drug at clubs. Ketamine has long history of being used in clubs and was one of the most popular substances used in the New York Club Kid scene. Ketamine produces a dissociative state, characterized by a sense of detachment from one's physical body and the external world which is known as depersonalization and derealization. Effects include hallucinations, changes in the perception of distances, relative scale, color and durations/time, as well as a slowing of the visual system's ability to update what the user is seeing.[citation needed]

In the 2000s, synthetic phenethylamines such as 2C-I, 2C-B and DOB have been referred to as club drugs due to their stimulating and psychedelic nature (and their chemical relationship with MDMA).[3] By late 2012, derivates of the psychedelic 2C-X drugs, the NBOMes and especially 25I-NBOMe, had become common at raves in Europe.


Although each club drug has some variation, their use in clubs reflects their generally similar effects. Successful club drugs' popularity stems from their ability to induce euphoria and hyperactivity whilst lowering social inhibitions. Many also report a feeling of heightened physical sensation, and increased libido and sexual pleasure.

Although research continues into the full scope of the effects of illegal drugs, regular and unsafe use of club drugs is widely accepted to have damaging side effects and carry a risk of addiction. Increased heart rate, a steep increase in body temperature, increase in blood pressure, spasms and dehydration are all common side effects of MDMA and Methamphetamine. Other club drugs have hallucinogenic effects and sedative effects. Drugs like LSD, Ketamine, GHB and Rohypnol demonstrate this. Breathing and respiratory issues, drowsiness, nausea and confusion are common side effects of said drugs. They can also make the user anxious, stressed and panicked, or even hallucinate. Withdrawal is also a risk with many club drugs. Drug cravings as the chemical leaves the user's body can be complicated by sleep deprivation, dehydration and hypoglycaemia to result in debilitating 'come downs' which can result in depression-like symptoms.

In the worst instance, club drugs result in the death of the user from cardiac arrest or water intoxication due to the increase in heart rate and thirstiness induced. Inconsistency in the strength and exact composition of the supplied drug causing users to overdose. Wide variance in the measured rate of deaths caused by drugs such as ecstasy across countries suggest that user and societal/environmental factors may also affect the lethality of club drugs.


In the mid to late-1970s disco club scene, there was a thriving drug subculture, particularly for drugs that would enhance the experience of dancing to the loud dance music and the flashing lights on the dancefloor. Substances such as cocaine[4] (nicknamed "blow"), amyl nitrite ("poppers"),[5] MDMA, Amphetamine, and Quaalude. (The former being described as [the] "...other quintessential 1970s club drug", which suspends motor coordination."[6]) According to Peter Braunstein, "massive quantities of drugs were ingested in discothèques."

Throughout the 1980s, the use of club drugs expanded into colleges, social parties, and raves. As raves grew in popularity through the late 1980s and into the late 1990s, drug usage, especially MDMA, grew with them. Much like discos, raves made use of flashing lights, loud techno/electronic dance music to enhance the user experience. Before their scheduling, some club drugs (especially designer drugs referred to as research chemicals) were advertised as alcohol free and drug free.

In Australia[edit]

It is well known that club drugs are used in Australia, as it is something commonly reported. There are many different Australian statistics using the variety of club drugs. It is shown that one in ten Australians has used MDMA at least once in their lifetime, however one in thirty have used MDMA in the past 12 months. One in a hundred Australians has used Ketamine at least once in their lives and a total of five hundred in the past 12 months. One in two hundred Australians have used GSB at least once in their lives and one in one thousand in the past 12 months. Regarding the entire Australian population, seven per cent of Australians have used cocaine at least once in their lifetime and two per cent of Australians have used it in the past 12 months (Australia Defence Force (ADF), n.d). In today’s generations, through teens, young adults and mature aged people, these drugs are a common attribute to nightclubs and pubs. For this reason they are used popularly throughout Australia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ *Erowid reference 6889
  2. ^
  3. ^ *BBC-2C-I
  4. ^ Gootenberg, Paul (1954). Between Coca and Cocaine: A Century or More of, pp. 119–150. He says that, "The relationship of cocaine to 1970s disco culture cannot be stressed enough; ...".
  5. ^ Amyl, butyl and isobutyl nitrite (collectively known as alkyl nitrites) are clear, yellow liquids which are inhaled for their intoxicating effects. Nitrites originally came as small glass capsules that were popped open. This led to nitrites being given the name 'poppers' but this form of the drug is rarely found in the UK The drug became popular in the UK first on the disco/club scene of the 1970s and then at dance and rave venues in the 1980s and 1990s. Available at:
  6. ^ – 76k -

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