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Club Drugs Facts & Figures

Overview

Contents
Overview
Extent of Use
Health Effects
Arrests & Sentencing
Production & Trafficking
Legislation
Street Terms
Other Links
Sources

Club drugs are a pharmacologically heterogeneous group of psychoactive compounds that tend to be abused by teens and young adults at a nightclub, bar, rave, or trance scene. Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol, ketamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and methamphetamine are some of the drugs in this group.1

MDMA is a synthetic, psychoactive drug chemically similar to the stimulant methamphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline.2

The tasteless and odorless depressants Rohypnol and GHB are often used in the commission of sexual assaults due to their ability to sedate and intoxicate unsuspecting victims. Rohypnol, a sedative/tranquilizer, is legally available for prescription in over 50 countries outside of the U.S. and is widely available in Mexico, Colombia, and Europe.3 Although usually taken orally in pill form, reports have shown that some users grind Rohypnol into a powder and snort the drug.4

GHB, available in an odorless, colorless liquid form or as a white powder material, is taken orally, and is frequently combined with alcohol. In addition to being used to incapacitate individuals for the commission of sexual assault/rape, GHB is also sometimes used by body builders for its alleged anabolic effects.5

The abuse of ketamine, a tranquilizer most often used on animals, became popular in the 1980s, when it was realized that large doses cause reactions similar to those associated with the use of PCP, such as dream-like states and hallucinations.6 The liquid form of ketamine can be injected, consumed in drinks, or added to smokable materials. The powder form can also be added to drinks, smoked, or dissolved and then injected.7 In some cases, ketamine is being injected intramuscularly.8

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Extent of Use

According to the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 12.3 million Americans aged 12 or older tried MDMA at least once in their lifetimes, representing 5% of the U.S. population in that age group. The number of past year MDMA users in 2006 was approximately 2.1 million (0.9% of the population aged 12 or older) and the number of past month MDMA users was 528,000 (0.2%).9

Among 12–17 year olds surveyed as part of the 2006 NSDUH, 0.3% reported past month MDMA use. Additional NSDUH results indicate that 1.0% of 18–25 year olds and 0.1% of those aged 26 or older reported past month use of MDMA.10

There were 860,000 individuals who first used MDMA in the year prior to the date of the NSDUH interview. 11

Results of the 2007 Monitoring the Future survey indicate that 2.3% of eighth graders, 5.2% of tenth graders, and 6.5% of twelfth graders reported lifetime use of MDMA. In 2006, these percentages were 2.5%, 4.5%, and 6.5%, respectively.12

Percent of Students Reporting MDMA Use, 2006–2007

 
8th Grade
10th Grade
12th Grade
2006 2007 2006 2007 2006 2007

Past month

0.7%

0.6%

1.2%

1.2%

1.3%

1.6%

Past year

1.4

1.5

2.8

3.5

4.1

4.5

Lifetime

2.5

2.3

4.5

5.2

6.5

6.5

Approximately 30.4% of eighth graders, 45.3% of tenth graders, and 58.1% of twelfth graders surveyed in 2007 reported that trying MDMA once or twice was a "great risk."13

Percent of Students Reporting Risk of Using MDMA, 2007

Say "great risk" to:
8th Grade
10th Grade
12th Grade

Try MDMA once/twice

30.4

45.3

58.1

Use MDMA occasionally

48.6

68.2

n/a

Approximately 1.0% of eighth graders and 1.3% of tenth graders surveyed in 2007 reported lifetime use of Rohypnol (twelfth grade data are not available for Rohypnol).14

Percent of Students Reporting Rohypnol Use, 2006–2007

 
8th Grade
10th Grade
12th Grade
2006 2007 2006 2007 2006 2007

Past month

0.4%

0.3%

0.2%

0.2%

n/a

n/a

Past year

0.5

0.7

0.5

0.7

1.1

1.0

Lifetime

1.0

1.0

0.8

1.3

n/a

n/a

Additional Monitoring the Future results for 2007 indicate that 0.7% of eighth graders, 0.6% of tenth graders, and 0.9% of twelfth graders reported past year use of GHB. Data showing past month and lifetime use of GHB and ketamine were not captured in the study.15

Percent of Students Reporting Past Year GHB/Ketamine Use,
2006–2007

 
8th Grade
10th Grade
12th Grade

2006

2007

2006

2007

2006

2007

GHB

0.8%

0.7%

0.7%

0.6%

1.1%

0.9%

Ketamine

0.9

1.0

1.0

0.8

1.4

1.3

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveys high school students on several risk factors including drug and alcohol use. Results of the 2007 survey indicate that 5.8% of high school students reported using ecstasy at some point in their lifetimes. During 2005, 6.3% of high school students reported lifetime use of ecstasy. 16

Percent of Students Reporting Lifetime MDMA Use, 2003–2007

 
2003
2005
2007
9th grade
10.9%
5.8%
4.6%
10th grade
9.0
6.0
5.3
11th grade
11.4
6.5
5.6
12th grade
12.8
6.7
7.6
Total
11.1
6.3
5.8

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Health Effects

In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body's ability to regulate temperature, sometimes leading to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), resulting in liver, kidney, and cardiovascular system failure, and death. MDMA users also risk increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating. Psychological effects of MDMA use can include confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. Additionally, these problems can occur during as well as sometimes days or weeks after using the drug.17

Rohypnol, GHB, and ketamine are all central nervous system depressants. Lower doses of Rohypnol can cause muscle relaxation and can produce general sedative and hypnotic effects. In higher doses, Rohypnol causes a loss of muscle control, loss of consciousness, and partial amnesia. When combined with alcohol, the toxic effects of Rohypnol can be aggravated.18

The sedative effects of GHB may result in sleep, coma, or death. Other effects of GHB use can include seizures, along with nausea and breathing difficulties when combined with alcohol. GHB has increasingly become involved in poisonings, overdoses, date rapes, and fatalities.19

The use of ketamine produces effects similar to PCP and LSD, causing distorted perceptions of sight and sound and making the user feel disconnected and out of control.20 The overt hallucinatory effects of ketamine are relatively short-acting, lasting approximately one hour or less. However, the user's senses, judgement, and coordination may be affected for up to 24 hours after the initial use of the drug.21 Use of this drug can also bring about respiratory depression, heart rate abnormalities, and a withdrawal syndrome.22

Of an estimated 106 million emergency department (ED) visits in the U.S. during 2004, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimates that 1,997,993 were drug-related. DAWN data indicate that MDMA was involved in 8,621 ED visits; GHB was involved in 2,340 visits; rohypnol was involved in 473 visits; and ketamine was involved in 227 visits.23

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Arrests & Sentencing

During 2006, Federal authorities made 690 arrests related to MDMA. This is down from: 764 in 2005; 937 in 2004; 1,023 in 2003; and 1,506 in 2002. There were also 2 Federal arrests for GHB in the U.S. during 2006, which is down from 19 in 2005 and 20 in 2004.24

In response to the Ecstasy Anti-Proliferation Act of 2000, the U.S. Sentencing Commission increased the guideline sentence for trafficking MDMA. The new amendment, enacted on November 1, 2001, increases the sentence for trafficking 800 MDMA pills by 300%, from 15 months to 5 years. It also increases the penalty for trafficking 8,000 pills by nearly 200%, from 41 months to 10 years.25

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Production & Trafficking

MDMA production by Asian drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in Canada has increased significantly since 2004, fueling MDMA distribution by Canada-based Asian DTOs in U.S. drug markets. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), while the number of MDMA lab seizures have remained relatively stable since 2004, the capacity of the labs has increased greatly.26

Domestic production of MDMA is limited and is expected to remain at low levels in the near future. Since 2000, only 85 domestic MDMA laboratories have been seized. National seizure data show that 53% of the MDMA labs seized in the U.S. since 2000 were small operations not capable of producing more than 2 ounces per production cycle.27

GHB trafficking has declined to a low level since its apparent peak during 2000. National seizure data reveal that domestic production of GHB is limited, with only 86 laboratories seized in the U.S. since 2000.28

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Legislation29

MDMA, GHB, Rohypnol, and ketamine have all been scheduled under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The Schedules of the club drugs are as follows:

  • MDMA—Schedule I as of 1998
  • GHB—Schedule I as of 2000
  • Rohypnol—Schedule IV as of 1984
  • Ketamine—Schedule III as of 1999

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Street Terms30

GHB Ketamine MDMA Rohypnol
Goop Cat valium Disco biscuit Forget me drug
Grievous bodily harm K Hug drug Mexican valium
Max Jet Go Roaches
Soap Super acid XTC Roofies

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Other Links

A Collection of Articles That Address Research on Club Drugs
This resource presents links to and full text of National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research articles concerning club drugs.

ClubDrugs.gov
This NIDA site provides club drugs resources including publications, news, and data.

Club Drugs Publications
A listing of club drug-related publications from various sources.

Frequently Asked Questions about Date Rape Drugs (PDF)
This resource provides information on the date rape drugs GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol.

In the Spotlight: Club Drugs
A comprehensive online resource providing data, publications, events, and other information related to club drugs.

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Sources

1 National Institute on Drug Abuse, InfoFacts: Club Drugs, August 2008

2 National Institute on Drug Abuse, InfoFacts: MDMA (Ecstasy), August 2008

3 Drug Enforcement Administration Web site, Drug Descriptions: Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)

4 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Community Drug Alert Bulletin: Club Drugs, May 2004

5 Drug Enforcement Administration Web site, Drug Descriptions: Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)

6 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Community Drug Alert Bulletin: Club Drugs, May 2004

7 Drug Enforcement Administration, Drug Description: Ketamine

8 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Community Drug Alert Bulletin: Club Drugs, May 2004

9 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings, September 2007

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 National Institute on Drug Abuse and University of Michigan, 2007 Monitoring the Future Study Drug Data Tables, December 2007

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance: Youth Online: Comprehensive Results

17 National Institute on Drug Abuse, InfoFacts: MDMA (Ecstasy), August 2008

18 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Community Drug Alert Bulletin: Club Drugs, May 2004

19 National Institute on Drug Abuse, InfoFacts: Club Drugs, August 2008

20 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report: Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs, March 2001

21 Drug Enforcement Administration Web site, Drug Descriptions: Ketamine

22 National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report: Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs, March 2001

23 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2004: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits, April 2006

24 National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2008 (PDF), October 2007

25 U.S. Sentencing Commission, Congressional Testimony, Statement of Diana E. Murphy, Chair of the U.S. Sentence Commission, before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control (PDF), March 21, 2001

26 National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2008, October 2007

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid.

29 Drug Enforcement Administration, Drugs of Abuse, 2005

30 Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse, Street Terms: Drugs and the Drug Trade

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