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Are All Club Drugs Hallucinogens?

Blurred people dancing at a rave depicting the effects of club drugs  

Club drugs, or party drugs, are drugs that are often found at parties, bars, and concerts. Teens may use party drugs like Ecstasy or LSD to party longer or enhance their experience at the party. Some of the drugs used at such parties may include hallucinogens like LSD and ketamine.

Although some party drugs are hallucinogens or have hallucinogenic properties, these drugs also include stimulants like methamphetamine and depressants like Rohypnol. A thorough understanding of these drugs can help prevent their misuse and educate people on the potential dangers of use.

What Are Hallucinogens?

Hallucinogens are characterized by their ability to produce hallucinations, i.e. distort a person’s perception of their surroundings or their thoughts and feelings. Some hallucinogens are natural and extracted from plants or mushrooms, whereas others are chemically synthesized. Substances that are classified as hallucinogens may be further categorized as either classical hallucinogens and dissociatives. Both classical hallucinogens and dissociatives cause rapid emotional fluctuations and visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations.

Examples of classical hallucinogens include drugs like:

  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Psilocybin
  • Peyote
  • Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)

Dissociative drugs, besides the effects produced by classical hallucinogens, also cause a perception of being detached from one’s body and environment. Dissociative drugs include:

  • Ketamine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • Salvia

Teens may use hallucinogens for social and recreational purposes or to help them cope with stress. In terms of the use of hallucinogens among different age groups, hallucinogen abuse is most prevalent in teenagers.

The use of hallucinogens can lead to pleasant and enjoyable experiences or “good trips”, but may also result in terrifying experiences provoking panic, fear, and anxiety. Dissociative drugs tend to have more adverse effects in the short-term and may include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Long-term use of classical hallucinogens can have effects that last months or years after discontinuation of drug use such as psychotic symptoms and frightening hallucinations. Long-term use of dissociative drugs can lead to addiction, speech problems, memory loss, anxiety, and depression.

What Are Club Drugs?

Club drugs are drugs that are commonly used by young people, including teens, at dance clubs, rave parties, and circuit parties. Raves are dance parties that last all night and involve loud techno-rock music. Such parties often involve the use of illicit drugs that act on the central nervous system to reduce social inhibitions, enhance their experience and increase energy. Club drugs include a wide variety of substances with different properties such as stimulants, hallucinogens, and depressants.

Examples of club drugs include:

  • MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ketamine
  • Rohypnol
  • LSD
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
  • Viagra

Besides these drugs, synthetic drugs, called designer drugs, are also often used as club drugs. Designer drugs are drugs that are similar in structure and function to controlled substances and are manufactured from legally sourced substances. Furthermore, they are distributed via the internet or head shops and intentionally are mislabeled to evade the authorities. Designer drugs are often marketed as legal highs and include synthetic cathinones (bath salts) and synthetic cannabinoids (spice). For example, synthetic cathinones are synthetic drugs designed to mimic the effects of stimulants like amphetamine and cocaine.

Although designer drugs do produce effects similar to illicit drugs, their composition and the chemical properties (and thus effects on the body) are unknown. This is also true for other club drugs and these drugs often contain multiple psychoactive substances in unknown quantities. This increases the risk of an overdose that may have serious repercussions, including death. The adverse effects produced by club drugs depend upon the kind of drug or drugs used and the amount of drug used.

However, all the drugs used as club drugs possess the potential to cause life-threatening side-effects. Some of these side-effects may include:

  • Cardiovascular effects
  • Respiratory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired memory
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Are All Club Drugs Hallucinogens?

The term “club drugs” is used to indicate drugs that are often used at rave events and club parties. The substances used as “club drugs” often vary depending upon the availability of drugs and the ease of access to these drugs. Furthermore, new variants of drugs (such as designer drugs) are synthesized all the time.

Substances used as club or party drugs may vary in their effects and although some are hallucinogens, stimulants and depressants are also used on the club scene. For example, stimulants like methamphetamine may be used to sustain energy levels to keep dancing through the night. On the other hand, depressants like GHB may be used for their intoxicating effects. Ecstasy, a common party drug used by teens, has both stimulating and hallucinogenic properties. In short, not all club drugs are hallucinogens but some are hallucinogens or have hallucinogenic effects.

Additional Resources on Club Drugs and Hallucinogens

Teens and young adults may encounter club drugs at parties, bars and concerts. These drugs may include hallucinogens, stimulants or depressants and are often manufactured by makeshift laboratories. Hence, the actual ingredients, dose and effects of club drugs are generally only known to the manufacturer of these drugs. These drugs used alone, or in combination with other substances like alcohol, can have potentially serious adverse effects in the short-term and can cause a fatal overdose. Most club drugs also have a high potential for abuse and can cause an addiction in teens upon prolonged use.

Information on club drugs, tips for teens about club drugs and information on dissociative drugs can be found that will guide anyone looking for more details on this category of drugs, their effects, and signs and symptoms of use.

If your teen has a substance use disorder, Next Generation Village can help. The staff at Next Generation Village consists of accredited and experienced doctors, nurses and mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of substance use disorders in teens. Contact Next Generation Village today to learn more about the treatment options available for your child.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation 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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