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Are Club Drugs and Designer Drugs the Same?

Teen giving another teen a designer drug pill  

Teen drug use occurs at alarming rates across the country. According to the 2018 Monitoring the Future Survey, 6.1% of 8th graders, 9.6% of 10th graders and 12.4% of 12th graders report using illicit drugs, other than marijuana, during the past year. Among the substances used by teens, teen party drugs are particularly prevalent at concerts, nightclubs, bars, and other social gatherings. The terms “club drugs” and “designer drugs” are commonly confused, leaving parents and other loved ones uncertain regarding what drugs their teens may be using.

What are Designer Drugs?

Some parents may wonder, “What are designer drugs?” Designer drugs, also known as synthetic street drugs, are synthetic substances created within a lab. These labs are generally illegal facilities. Designer drugs are typically created by using chemistry to alter the properties of drugs initially derived from plants, such as cocaine or marijuana. The new designer drugs affect the brain in a different way, producing new sensations, physical side effects, and behavioral changes. These designer drugs are commonly used as teenage party drugs.

Designer Drugs List

What are some designer drugs? A list of designer drugs includes newer designer drugs and drugs that have been around for decades:

  • MDMA (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), also known as ecstasy and molly
  • GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate), also called G and liquid ecstasy
  • Ketamine, also known as Special K and K
  • Rohypnol, also known as roofies
  • Methamphetamine, also known as speed, ice or meth
  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), also known as acid
  • Bath salts, also called bliss, blue silk or cloud nine
  • U-47700, nicknamed U4, pink or pinky
  • Spice/K2, or synthetic marijuana
  • Flakka (alpha-PVP)

Designer Drugs vs. Club Drugs

The terms “club drugs” and “designer drugs” are commonly confused. Designer drugs are sometimes called club drugs due to their frequent use by young adults in night clubs. However, “club drugs” is a broader term that may refer to non-synthetic drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Thus, designer drugs are also generally club drugs, but not all club drugs are designer drugs.

Effects of Designer Drugs and Club Drugs

Designer drugs function as psychoactive substances. By impacting the central nervous system, designer drugs cause physical and behavioral changes. Since most designer drugs are manufactured in secret, unregulated labs, their composition and strength can vary from batch to batch. Designer drugs are also commonly contaminated, or “laced,” with other ingredients or drugs. The uncontrolled nature and uncertain side effects of designer drugs can contribute to dangerous health impacts and drug overdose. Teen alcohol use alongside designer drug use can also increase the risk of severe health effects due to how the substances interact within the body.

Side effects of club drugs and designer drugs include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • High blood pressure
  • Memory loss
  • Coma
  • Death

If your teen lives with addiction to designer drugs, Next Generation Village can help. Contact Next Generation Village to learn about our treatment options and begin the initial steps toward addiction recovery.

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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