Club Drug Abuse and Dependence

What is club drug abuse and dependence?

Club drugs are man-made drugs. They are known as “club drugs” because they are often used at bars, nightclubs, concerts, and parties. Club drugs can be taken by mouth, inhaled through the nose in powder form (“snorting”), injected into a vein, or smoked. Some of them are clear, tasteless liquids that can be dissolved in drinks.

There are many types of club drugs including Ecstasy, bath salts, “date rape” drugs such as GHB and Rohypnol (“roofies”), Ketamine, and methamphetamine (meth). Nonprescription cold medicines or diet pills that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine can be used to make meth. Spice, or K2, is made from herbs that are sprayed with a chemical called THC, which is the same chemical found in marijuana.

Abuse and dependence are patterns of using drugs that lead to serious personal, family and health problems. Abuse is when you keep taking the drug even though it causes a problem such as:

  • Showing up late or missing work or school and not caring about things that used to matter to you
  • Breaking rules or breaking the law
  • Having financial problems
  • Not keeping promises, arguing, or even getting violent with other people
  • Doing things that are dangerous, such as driving while under the influence

If you continue to abuse drugs, you can become dependent. When you are dependent on drugs, you:

  • Need to use more and more of the drug or use it more often to get the same effects
  • Lose control, which means you keep using drugs even though you know that it is harmful to you or others or you can’t stop using drugs when you try
  • Crave drugs so much that you spend a lot of time and energy getting drugs, using drugs, and getting over the effects
  • Have withdrawal symptoms when you stop using drugs

Dependence is also called addiction. These drugs are very dangerous. Harmful chemicals may be in these drugs. Different batches of club drugs are not always the same. The possible side effects are unpredictable.

What is the cause?

The brain makes chemicals that affect thoughts, emotions, and actions. Club drugs change the way your body and brain work. When you use drugs, your brain starts to get used to them. As a result, you don’t feel good unless you use drugs, and you may act different when you use them. When you stop using drugs suddenly, the balance of chemicals in your brain changes, which may cause the symptoms of withdrawal.

You have a higher risk of becoming dependent on drugs if you:

  • Have a family history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Have abused alcohol or drugs in the past
  • Are easily frustrated, have trouble dealing with stress, or feel like you aren’t good enough
  • Are regularly around people who use alcohol or drugs
  • Have a mental health problem
  • Have constant pain

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of club drug abuse or dependence can be mild to severe. Symptoms depend on what kind of drug you use, and how much and how often you use the drug.

Symptoms for GHB or ketamine may include:

  • Trouble walking or talking
  • Confusion or memory problems
  • Trouble breathing or stopping breathing
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • Seizures

Symptoms for Ecstasy or methamphetamine may include:

  • Sweating or shaking
  • Clenching your teeth
  • Muscle cramps
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling very anxious
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Believing things that are not true

The symptoms of withdrawal can be mild to severe. You may have some of these symptoms when you stop using drugs:

  • Extreme restlessness and irritability
  • Changes in your appetite or sleep
  • Very strong cravings for the drug

Accidental overdoses are common. You may have seizures or go into a coma. Taking more than one kind of drug, or taking drugs and drinking alcohol increases your risk of overdose or death. Boosting, which is taking more drugs while you are high, is even riskier.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask how much and how often you use club drugs. Be honest about your drug use. Your provider needs this information to give you the right treatment. He will also ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. You may have tests or scans to help make a diagnosis.

How is it treated?

Club drug abuse and dependence can be treated. For any treatment to be successful, you must want to stop using drugs. Do not try to use alcohol and other drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help you get through withdrawal.

If you are abusing or dependent on club drugs and want to quit, get help.

Self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, support groups, and therapy may be helpful. You might be treated in a substance abuse treatment program. Your healthcare providers and counselors will work with you to develop a treatment program.

Recovery from dependence is a long-term process. Follow-up treatment is very important so that you don’t go back to abusing drugs.

If you have overdosed, or are having severe withdrawal symptoms, you will need to be treated in a hospital. You will also be treated for any health problems such as a heart attack, stroke, or other life-threatening problems.

How can I take care of myself?

The best way to help yourself is to see your healthcare provider and make plans to stop using club drugs. If you are already seeing a healthcare provider, it is important to take the full course of treatment he or she prescribes.

  • Get support. Talk with family and friends. Consider joining a support group in your area.
  • Learn to manage stress. Ask for help at home and work when the load is too great to handle. Find ways to relax, for example take up a hobby, listen to music, watch movies, or take walks. Try deep breathing exercises when you feel stressed.
  • Take care of your physical health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet. Limit caffeine. If you smoke, quit. Don’t use alcohol or drugs. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
  • Avoid situations where people are likely to use alcohol or drugs.
  • Check your medicines. To help prevent problems, tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all of the medicines, natural remedies, vitamins, and other supplements that you take. Take all medicines as directed by your provider or therapist. It is very important to take your medicine even when you are feeling and thinking well. Without the medicine, your symptoms may not improve or may get worse. Talk to your provider if you have problems taking your medicine or if the medicines don’t seem to be working.
  • Contact your healthcare provider or therapist if you have any questions or your symptoms seem to be getting worse.
  • Keep trying. Many people try more than once to quit using drugs before they finally succeed. So, never say, “I can’t.” You CAN learn to live without drugs in your daily life.

Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or self-harm, violence, or harming others.

People and resources in your community that can help you include your healthcare providers, therapists, support groups, mental health centers, and alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. You may want to contact:

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-11-05
Last reviewed: 2014-03-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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