Club drugs are illicit substances that are used at night clubs, dance parties or bars typically by young men and women. Club drugs are taken to enhance the experience of the nightclub or event they are attending. Common substances taken as club drugs are ecstasy, GHB, ketamine, rohypnol, cocaine and amphetamines.
Drug taking of this type has increased in popularity over the last 30 years. This coincides with the rise of disco and dance music and the opening of many new exciting and interesting bars and clubs. Dance festivals and raves have also increased in popularity and every year there are hundreds of events held across Australia, America and Europe. These events feature DJ, dancers, excitement and usually drugs. Most nightclubs and dance music events are promoted as drug free but despite police and security on site, many drugs are still taken or experienced at these places.
When drugs are purchased and consumed in a nightclub or at an event, there is little information about the drug. The drug could be sold as something different. An ecstacy tablet could in fact be methamphetamine for example. The drug could be very strong, or it may be a substance that is not supposed to be mixed with alcohol. Taking any drug is a risk, but taking a drug from an unknown source increases the potential risks.
Adverse reactions to club drugs are common under normal circumstances, but when someone has a bad reaction in a nightclub or at a dance event they may find themselves in trouble. Although medical assistance may be available, many young people are too scared to get help if they or their friend begins to get into problems. They may fear the repercussions from security or the police, or feel that they know how to handle the reaction themselves. This can result in fatal consequences.
Club drugs can make users feel paranoid, anxious and have hallucinations. When multiple drugs are taken, the effects can be magnified, including the negative side effects. Increased heart rate and body temperature, dehydration, tremors, seizures and nausea are commonly reported effects. Combining some drugs with alcohol can have very serious implications, up to and including death. Reports of serious problems are common when GHB or ketamine and alcohol are taken in combination.
Sometimes, people engage in a dangerous form of drug taking called drug binging. Drug binging is when a person takes a large quantity of drugs over a period of time. There are many risks involved with this type of drug taking. The levels of dangerous chemicals in their bodies can cause serious reactions such as panic attacks, psychotic episodes, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, seizures and dehydration. When someone is on a drug binge, they may take more drugs than they remember, they make take combinations of drugs that can cause serious health issue and they can be involved in high risk activities or commit serious crimes. After a binge, many people report feeling depressed, tired, shaky and weak. This is because drugs can drain a person of energy, deplete their levels of dopamine and serotonin.
With the rise in popularity of both ecstasy and dance music culture, there has also been the development of harm minimization websites to educate and inform clubbers and drug takers about the risks. Some websites such as Pill Reports and Dance Safe were developed with the intention of giving up to date information regarding particular drugs such as ecstasy. Users can submit their drug information to the site anonymously to advise other uses about the ingredients in the ecstasy tablets. More recently, designer drugs or research chemical information has also been made available on the sites.
Harm minimization sites have been integral in reducing the risks that clubbers take when consuming drugs. These sites have provided invaluable information to new drug users, experienced drug users and event organizers about the trends in drug use in the clubbing industry. These sites offer information, guides and warnings to clubbers and drug takers about the dangers of drugs, combinations of drugs and how to properly deal with adverse reactions.
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