cover bar Title: Club Drugs: Destination X
Author: Jim Parker
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date: October 2007
Catalog Number: 166

..Hey! Maybe the X in Generation X stands for something, after all.

Same for the Y in Generation Y.

In fact, maybe the X stands for X-treme chemical curiosity, and the Y for "Why not?"

That's one conclusion you could draw, at least, if you felt the spray off the latest wave of psychoactive chemicals -- including ecstasy, ketamine, GHB, 2C-B, and others -- that crests every night at 11:30 or so in clubs and raves from coast to coast.

Effects of the drugs span the gamut -- ecstasy can inspire speedy feelings of empathy, ketamine out-of-body (and out-of-mind) experiences, GHB a booze-like buzz of bliss and puking, 2C-B giddiness and hallucinations -- and they appeal to way different crowds, too.

All-night ravers lean towards ecstasy and, increasingly, the old stimulant standby crystal methamphetamine-which has even lost a few pounds and powdered over some wrinkles for the occasion. New York clubgoers like ketamine, dance-club denizens on the West Coast and elsewhere dig GHB and 2C-B, or "Nexus."

And while users claim all sorts of expanded self-awareness from the drugs, others aren't so sure that satori can be bought, sold, or borrowed for 20-30 bucks a pop in a nightclub john or a corner of an abandoned warehouse, whether there happens to be a thousand sweaty bodies trance-dancing and pseudo-humping to the thump of 120-beat-a-minute techno music next to you or not.

But, hey, like Dennis Miller used to say (when he was still funny), that's just our opinion. We could be wrong.

..Club Drugs Confidential

A lot of strange stuff has been bubbling up lately in the old club-drugs chemical cauldron.

In fact, there are so many new chemicals turning up (and so many pricey, act-alike herbal products masquerading as real drugs) that it's tough telling all the players without a program.

Luckily, you've got a program in your hands, right now.

In it, we'll be discussing some of the new (and newly-recycled) drugs that are popping up on the dance-club and rave scene.

What we won't be doing is advocating drug use in general or any chemical in particular.

We've seen too many lives torn apart in too many ways to endorse the kind of reckless seat-of-the-pants chemistry experiments that people run on themselves.

On the other hand, we know that people will smoke, snort, and swallow just about everything under the sun and moon in pursuing instant enlightenment and nocturnal nirvana, no matter what we say. And we've seen lots of lives wrecked from sheer ignorance, too.

That's why we put together this pamphlet -- because fun really is only one side of the club-drugs risks/benefits equation.

The other side is risk, and you need to know as much about that as you can to avoid as much of it as possible.


The drug that did more than any other to kick off the club-drugs phenomenon is "ecstasy," or MDMA.

Chemically related to both methamphetamine and mescaline, it combines properties of both without the excesses of either, according to users.

That made it an ideal party drug for lots of people, and it quickly became a staple at "raves," the all-night tribal trancedances that combine high-energy techno music and the peace-and-love ethic of the new alternative culture.

Users claim that ecstasy (or "E," as it's often called) enhances empathy and catalyzes the rapturous group consciousness that raves are meant to embody, without the perceptual and mental distortions common to such psychedelics as LSD.

On the downside, "E" has been linked to several deaths in the United States and Britain, usually brought on by hyperthermia (high body temperature) and dehydration.

Proponents claim that risks can be minimized by drinking lots of water (or other nonalcoholic liquids) and by taking frequent breaks to avoid overheating during marathon dance sessions.


Chemical name N-methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
Drug type Hallucinogenic amphetamine
Street name(s) E, X, XTC, Ecstasy
Duration Effects usually last 4-6 hours, depending on dosage.
Special Considerations Ecstasy rarely causes panic reactions, but it can cause users to "over-amp" in various ways, particularly if used during periods of intense physical exertion, like dancing. Users can guard against dehydration and hyperthermia (high body temperature) by taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of water.


Ketamine lingered on the fringes of the drug culture for decades, until it was dusted off in the early '90s by Generation X-plorers, impressed by the sheer freakiness of its effects, who turned it into a psychedelic standby in raves and dance clubs.

Used medically as an anesthetic, ketamine differs from other such drugs by stimulating breathing and heart beat, rather than slowing them down. It's also different from other anesthetics (except its chemical cousin, PCP), in its ability to trigger psychological dissociation, hallucinations, even out-of-body experiences and near-death-like states.

Still, one person's veggie burger is another person's poison: K's drawbacks as a medical drug serve as its drawing cards as a party drug.

At "subanesthetic" doses (about a tenth of a surgical dose), ketamine triggers major changes in thought and perception, ranging from closed-eye visual hallucinations to "profound transpersonal states," in the words of one researcher.

Users undergo a dissolving of normal ego states early in a ketamine experience, accompanied by a sensation of floating or disconnection from the body. Also common are feelings of connection with alternate worlds or parallel dimensions that can seem as real as our own.

The drug can also cause numbness and incoordination, even a state of "virtual helplessness" according to a report in the British Medical Journal.

And while that may not be a problem if you're home in bed, it can be something else altogether at a rave or dance club.

Finally, using K with alcohol causes vomiting, according to users who presumably learned the usual way.


Chemical name 2-(o-chlorophenyl)-2-(methyl-amino)cyclohexanone HCL
Drug type Dissociative anesthetic
Street name(s) K, Special K, Vitamin K
Duration Effects usually last about an hour, depending on dosage. Recovery period lasts 90-120 minutes.
Special Considerations Ketamine is extremely unpredictable, and users can hurt themselves through falls or other accidents. In the event of panic, reduce stimuli in a quiet, darkened room.


A relative newcomer on the dance-drug scene, 2 C-B produces a variety of effects similar to MDMA.

Effects typically start with an "energy tremor," or surge, that occurs during the first 20-30 minutes.

Visual distortions and hallucinations are common during the plateau phase of the experience (1-2 hours after ingestion), often accompanied by feelings of insight and heightened emotional awareness and sensitivity.

Visual effects associated with 2 C-B include intensification of color and transformation of everyday objects or scenes into unusual forms.

Other sensory effects include a heightening of smell, touch, and taste, in addition to increased response to color and sound.

Although it has no formally-recognized medical uses, 2C-B has been used by a number of therapists, often in conjunction with MDMA. It's also used at raves and in dance clubs, like ecstasy. And just as with ecstasy, liquids should be available during use to reduce the risk of dehydration.


Chemical name 4-Bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine
Drug type Phenethylamine
Street name(s) Nexus, Utopia, Venus
Duration Varies with dose, but 5-6 hours is common.
Special Considerations Due to its similarity to MDMA, users should drink plenty of water to reduce risk of dehydration.


If you think ordinary drugs are complex, consider GHB. It's even got two names, GHB (its real name) and GBH -- a misabbreviation of an early street name, "Grievous Bodily Harm." Still, all the names and letters refer to the same thing: gamma hydroxybutyrate.

A natural component of normal brain chemistry, GHB was legally available in health stores for years until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned its sale in 1990, due to adverse reactions linked to its unrestricted use.

Early problems were mostly minor, but the FDA launched an investigation that eventually turned up various forms of GHB toxicity. Symptoms included dizziness, slowed breathing and heart rate, and a "non-rousable" sleep that's sometimes mistaken for coma.

As production sloshed onto the black market (via do-it-yourself "chemical kits" sold over the internet), both GHB and a legal chemical precursor, GBL ("Blue Nitro," "Renewtrient"), began to be linked to more problems. The most serious was a potentially life-threatening overdose syndrome, especially when either is used with alcohol.

Both were also tied to incidents of drink spiking and date rape-some ending in death-which fueled passage of a nationwide ban in February, 2000.

Still, GHB may be as noteworthy for what it symbolizes as for what it is.

Because it (and chemicals like it) are bubbling away, even as we speak, in the beakers and brains of Gen-X/Y drug chemists, anxious to put their mark on the hearts and minds of a generation.

And the only way we find out whether they succeed or fail is the old-fashioned way: through trial and error, one side effect -- or overdose -- at a time.


Chemical name Gamma hydroxybutyrate
Drug type Euphoriant-depressant
Street name(s) Liquid E, Liquid X, "GBH," "Grievous Bodily Harm"
Duration Depends on dose, but effects start in 15-30 minutes and can last 2-4 hours.
Special Considerations Because it produces CNS depression, GHB should not be used with other depressant drugs or alcohol -- a main factor in many adverse reactions. Since liquid GHB is often sold pre-mixed with juices, dosage can be difficult to gauge.

..E-ternal truths

To some people, drugs and sex and rock-n-roll go together like, well, like drugs and sex and rock-n-roll. That's been true for a long time. It's no surprise that things aren't different today.

Still, drugs today are different, and they're likely to get even more different in the future.

And in spite of any hype you've heard (or may hear) to the contrary, one simple fact about drugs has always been true -- and probably always will be.

Here it is:

[Insert drug name here]  is a powerful chemical that can cause serious problems if misused or used under the wrong circumstances. And they can all be misused or used under the wrong circumstances.

It's been true a lot longer than sex and drugs and tribal/trance/techno/hip-hop/trip-hop have gone together: What goes up must come down.

And if you want to make sure that the law of cosmic-consciousness cause and effect doesn't come crashing down on you when you least expect it -- or are least prepared to deal with it -- you'd better remember it.

..Sidebar | Obey Your Thirst: Technotrip Tips

Given all the hype that raves and Generation-X/Y drug habits have garnered, it's almost surprising that so few serious health problems have turned up or have been linked to the drugs.

One reason is dosage. Club drugs tend to be safer than the rock-n-roll drugs of a generation ago because they're typically sold at lower dosage levels and are thus more easily managed.

Take LSD. (Well, don't actually take it, but consider it, at least.) If it were a beer, they might call it "Acid Lite."

Doses today average 30-50 micrograms-down considerably from the 200 mcg-plus trips of a generation ago. The result? A much less intense, panic-driven experience, and fewer freakouts.

Still, there are problems in Raver City: Hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature) for one. Deaths have been reported at raves in England and the United States, linked to the combined effects of high body temperature and dehydration with hours of E-inspired dancing in often-overheated rooms.

That's why it's so important for Destination X-ers to drink lots of water-it helps both to replenish fluids and provides an occasional break from the nonstop exertion of dancing. Still, there's no need to overdo it; drinking too much water can cause serious physical problems, too.

And it's also important for rave promoters to provide "chill out" rooms, smart-drug and juice bars, or plenty of plain old H20 for those who need it -- and everybody needs it, sooner or later, in one way or another.

This is one in a series of publications on drugs, behavior, and health by Do It Now Foundation.
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