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What is a Club Drug?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Feb 21, 2024
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A club drug is a mind-altering substance used to enhance the experience of dancing or partying in large crowds. While people who engage in large party scenes may do other drugs at a club, a club drug is thought to specifically enhance the experience of being in a crowded club. These drugs gained popularity in dance clubs, discotheques, and raves, but may also be used outside of crowded spaces. Many different drugs are included in this category, but amphetamines, ecstasy, and ketamine are all well known members of this class. Generally, a substance must be illegal to be considered a club drug, so alcohol is not included in this category, although it is commonly used at clubs.

When at a dance club, one often seeks to experience dissociation through repetitive dancing movements and loud music. A club drug can help to achieve this effect. Ecstasy and ketamine can cause a person to feel separated from his or her body. These drugs may also increase pleasure caused by touching, which is enjoyable for many people when dancing.

In many cases, a club drug may be taken in order to feel invincible or for the capacity to dance all night. Cocaine, amphetamines, and other stimulants can be taken to achieve this effect. A dance club is usually a very active place, and most depressants are generally less popular than stimulants as club drugs. Even so, heroin is occasionally sold at clubs.

Some people enjoy taking drugs that cause hallucinations at clubs. This can be unpleasant for a user because frightening hallucinations may occur, and the user may be far from a quiet and safe space. When the experience is pleasant, the noise, lights, and dancing present at a club can make hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD produce unusual and enjoyable effects.

Most people who consume club drugs do so voluntarily, but in some cases, people are drugged at clubs and are put in dangerous situations. Ketamine, for instance, is also sometimes used to change a victim's mental state to the degree that he or she will not struggle against otherwise unwanted sexual contact. In these cases, drugs that happen to be used at clubs are not considered club drugs. Most people use this term to refer to recreational use of illegal substances, not use of these substances to commit crimes.

Not all dance clubs involve drug use. Which drugs are popular at a particular club often depends on the style of dancing or the social group that frequents the club. The popularity and legality of drugs also varies by country. It is important to remember that club drugs are for the most part illegal and that consumption of illegal drugs can lead to serious legal consequences.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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