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Club Drugs and Their Treatment

Club Drugs and Their Treatment


Sponsored by CME LLC for 1.5 Category 1 credits.
Original release date 1/06. Approved for CME credit through 12/31/06.


Educational Objectives:
After reading this article, you will be familiar with:

  • The history, physiological effects and mechanism of action of MDMA, ketamine and GHB (club drugs).
  • Treatments for reactions to club drugs.
  • Efforts at harm reduction among users of club drugs and risk of dependence.

Who will benefit from reading this article?

Psychiatrists, primary care physicians, neurologists, nurse practitioners, psychiatric nurses and other mental health care professionals. Continuing medical education credit is available for most specialties. To determine if this article meets the CE requirements for your specialty, please contact your state licensing board.

Dr. McDowell is assistant clinical
professor at Columbia
University. He is the
senior medical director of the Substance Treatment and Research Service (STARS)
and director of the Buprenorphine Program. He
maintains a private practice in Manhattan
and has been researching and writing about club drugs for over 12 years.

Dr. McDowell has indicated he has
nothing to disclose.

Club drugs are also called "party drugs," and this name conveys the
commonality and situational nature of their use. They consist of a disparate
group of psychoactive substances and usually include, but are not limited to, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), ketamine
and g-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). The drugs differ in
terms of administration, mechanism of action and effect. The use of these
substances is by no means limited to parties and large gatherings, but it is
there that they are most often found and best understood.

Club drugs have been linked inextricably with the rise of the rave
phenomenon. Anecdotal reports suggest that raves were "born" in Ibiza, an
island off the coast of Spain
(Bellis et al., 2000). Raves have periodically been
considered "the next big thing" episodically, but have developed into a
background subculture. However, raves remain a locus where young people are
introduced to and use drugs of all kinds and club drugs in particular.

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