Often known as designer drugs or club drugs, party drugs are substances often used by teenagers or young adults at parties, concerts, raves, bars or nightclubs. Users of the drugs, which are usually manufactured in illegal labs, are often only between 13 and 19 years of age.
Young people who use party drugs are playing a dangerous game of "Russian roulette"; the drugs are very harmful, potentially fatal and extremely difficult to control:
- Party drugs are sometimes made from toxic chemicals, often imported from China or elsewhere in Asia. In some cases the drugs are mixed with substances such as laxatives, baby powder or powdered laundry detergent. This is why it is nearly impossible to gauge the strengths and possible effects of the drugs. Some cities where big party events such as the "Street Parade" take place, offer free testing of these party drugs in order to reduce potential harm. Young people should be encouraged to use these services and not play "Russian roulette".
- The drugs are easy to find. Many are available on the Internet, while others can be purchased in head shops where they have innocuous names such as liquid incense.
- Many governments have attempted to pass laws that prohibit manufacture and sales of party drugs. However, creating and enforcing laws is difficult because the formulations change so rapidly that manufacturers are able to stay a jump ahead of law enforcement officials.
- In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that five new party drugs are introduced every month. The legislative process moves slowly and it can take several years to add a new drug to the list of federally controlled substances.
- Effects vary but are often extreme and unpredictable. Some party drugs can cause addiction, many cause dangerous behavior and/or psychosis.
Commonly used party drugs include Ecstasy, MDMA, Mephedrone, “bath salts”, spice and various date rape drugs.
Ecstasy: Sometimes known as XTC, ecstasy is often used in underage events where alcohol isn’t permitted. The drug is related to amphetamine, but it acts much like a hallucinogen. It is available in capsules, powder, or stamped to look like candy.
Molly: This blanket term, used to describe more than 20 different chemical combinations, is often referred to as MDMA or Ecstasy. Sometimes, meth and cocaine are sold as Molly. Because the concentration and make-up of the drug is uncertain, it’s impossible to predict the results. However, low doses generally bring about energy, pleasure and confidence, while less pleasant reactions include hyperactivity, insomnia, teeth grinding, depression and panic attacks.
Date rape drugs: Drugs such as GHB, Ketamine and Rohypnol are referred to as date rape drugs because they are colorless, odorless and tasteless. Sexual assault occurs when victims, both male and female, are intoxicated without their knowledge. Date rape drugs are extremely dangerous when combined with alcohol.
Bath salts: This term is used to describe a dangerous synthetic narcotic, not the scented bath salts in the bathroom. The chemical makeup of bath salts is usually unknown, but dangerous side effects include paranoia, suicidal tendencies, insomnia and high blood pressure.
Amyl Nitrate: Often known as “poppers,” this drug consists of a powerful vapor that acts as a muscle relaxant and affects users within seconds. In low doses it brings about feelings of wellbeing and tranquility. Dangerous symptoms include low blood pressure, increased heart rate, dizziness, respiratory problems and blackouts.
Mephedrone: Often sold under friendly-sounding names like “bubbles,” “plant food” or “meow-meow, Mephedrone is similar to Molly, cocaine or meth. Initially, the drug causes euphoria and a feeling of increased alertness, but it can also over-stimulate the heart and nervous system. Other consequences include a distorted sense of time, blurred vision, anxiety and confusion.
Spice: This drug is a synthetic form of marijuana, but much more dangerous and unpredictable. It consists of herbal mixtures that are soaked in various chemicals, then sold under names such as “moon rocks” or “skunk.” It can cause feelings of relaxation and wellbeing, but higher doses may result in confusion, rapid heart rate and agitation.