Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Club Drugs—Myths and Risks


Am Fam Physician. 2004 Jun 1;69(11):2627.

What is a “club drug”?

Club drugs make users feel more open, intimate, and less shy. They are popular in nightclubs, at parties, and at raves. The most common club drugs are MDMA (“Ecstasy”), GHB (“Liquid Ecstasy”), Rohypnol (“Roofies”), and ketamine (“Special K”). They have many other names. Often, these drugs are a mix of unknown products and strengths.

Are club drugs safe?

No. Although most club drugs look like prescription medicines, they are illegally made and can cause harm. Their use has caused many injuries and deaths.

Are club drugs addictive?

Yes. Many club drugs are types of methamphetamine, which is highly addictive. People also can become addicted to GHB and Rohypnol, which have severe and long-lasting withdrawal symptoms.

Is it safe to use a club drug in a small amount?

No. Even a single pill can cause death in some persons. People react differently to these drugs. One person might overdose on a small amount, while another person could take much more. The strength of these drugs can vary from batch to batch.

How do I know if my friends are taking club drugs?

Club drugs may cause overheating. If you see anyone who looks overheated, weak, or sick, get them to a cool, quiet place as soon as you can. If they are thirsty, give them a sports drink (like Gatorade), not plain water. If they don't feel better, get medical help right away. The long-term effects of these drugs harm the brain and may cause early memory problems.

Club drugs often are used as “date-rape” drugs. The following are things you can do to prevent someone from giving you a club drug without your knowing it:

  • Always keep your drink or water with you.

  • Never take a drink from someone you don't know or trust.

  • Watch out for your friends' drinks.

Why shouldn't I use club drugs?

You don't need club drugs to be calm or open up. All the drugs do is make you have more energy, but you can get the same energy from other things (like sports, dancing). Yoga and meditation can help you relax.

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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