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Departments : In the Hood

Club Drugs

Gangs control much of the flow of dangerous recreational drugs at raves.

April 01, 2002  |  by Al Valdez

Rave parties and "club drugs" have become common terms. But what are club drugs exactly? Are they special controlled substances? Are they prescription drugs? Who sells them? Just as important, what is their impact for those of us who work the street?

The sale of club drugs such as ecstacy and LSD has been adopted as a way to fund the personal lifestyles of business-minded gang members. There is some evidence to support the fact that older, mobile gang members are now involved in the sale of these drugs as well.


Almost all of the ecstasy sold in the United States is smuggled in from Europe. However, the current war on terrorism and increased airport security might fuel an increase in the number of U.S. clandestine labs.

Big money can be made selling ecstasy. A $100,000 investment in Europe is worth about 2.5 million tax-free dollars in the United States.

Street names for ecstasy include "ETC," "X," "roll," "E," "hug drug," and "bean." The effects of ecstasy, which combines the sensations of a stimulant and a hallucinogen, can start within 30 to 45 minutes after ingestion. The drug is usually taken in a pill form, though I have seen ecstasy in a powder form that was swallowed with orange juice.

Under the influence of ecstacy, lights and sound take on altered qualities, causing a state of euphoria. The peak feelings usually occur within 90 minutes after ingesting the drug, but the high can last as long as 6 hours.

While in this state, personal inhibitions seem to disappear. People under the influence of ecstasy like to touch and hug each other a lot, hence the name the "hug drug." Ecstasy also raises the body temperature, part of the stimulant effect.

Water is sold at many rave parties to help prevent dehydration and to help control body temperature. Users might also sweat heavily, get dry mouth, and have rapid eye movement. Additionally, users also might be seen with glo-sticks because they enhance the visual sensations or with Vick's vapor rub, which is spread on dust or surgical masks to enhance the olfactory experience.


Street names for GHB include "G," "liquid X," "grievous bodily harm," "easy lay," "goop," or "Georgia home boy." It is normally sold and used as a clear liquid. But it has been encountered as a white powder, in tablet and capsule form.

Most often GHB is placed in the drink of an unsuspecting victim. If the drink is mixed with alcohol, the effect is enhanced. Alcohol and GHB combinations can be fatal.

The effects are felt within about 10 to 20 minutes after GHB ingestion. The physical effects normally peak within 2 hours. Mental effects include a euphoric state.

A common side effect of GHB is amnesia. This is why the drug is sometimes given to unsuspecting women, who then become overly intoxicated and are sexually assaulted.

After such a rape, the victims realize that something has happened to them, but cannot remember any details. This can be a frightening experience for the victim and frustrating for the responding officer.

If you encounter a victim of GHB overdose and he or she is down, roll the victim over on his side. GHB influence takes away the natural gag reflex. If the victim vomits, being on his or her side will help prevent inhalation of the emesis.

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