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.[PAGEBREAK]


Veterinary anesthesia is the primary legitimate use for ketamine as reflected by one of its common street names, "cat Valium." Other street names for ketamine include "Special K" and "K."

Ketamine can be injected, applied to a smokeable material and smoked, or consumed in drinks. A powdered form of ketamine can easily be made by letting the solvent in the liquid evaporate. This can be done by baking the liquid, using heat to assist in the process. This leaves a white or slightly off white powder. The powder can resemble cocaine after it is pulverized., and it is often sold in 2x2 plastic baggies called "bump."

Onset of ketamine effects can occur within 15 to 20 minutes after ingestion. The duration has been reported to last from 30 to 90 minutes.

The drug is said to produce physical effects similar to PCP, with the visual effects of LSD. You may hear a user tell you he was in "K-Land." a term that is used to describe a mellow, colorful trip. At higher doses, users have reported a near death or out of body experience. Sometimes this experience is referred to as "K-Hole." As with GHB, ketamine has been used as a date rape drug because of its disassociative effects.


The most common way of selling and using LSD is "blotter paper." However, the liquid form is becoming popular in certain areas of the country. Small squares of gelatin called "window panes" can even be used to package LSD.

When compared to the other club drugs, LSD is cheap to buy. The cost is usually between $2 and $10 per hit. The effects can be felt between 20 and 30 minutes after ingestion.


Methamphetamine is frequently encountered at rave parties. Its stimulant effects and relatively inexpensive purchase price make it an ideal drug to be sold at a rave or club.

The onset of the methamphetamine effects varies with method of ingestion. Methamphetamine can cause convulsions, high body temperatures, uncontrolled movements, and insomnia. In extremely high doses methamphetamine can cause death. Don't forget, contact with a meth user after a binge can be extremely dangerous.


Rohypnol is used as a prescription sleep disorder medication in over 64 countries, but it has never been manufactured or marketed in the United States.

Rohypnol is commonly known as the date-rape drug. On the street Rohypnol is called "roofies," "Roche," "rope," "Mexican Valium," "roaches," or the "forget me pill."

The original form was a white pill that could be crushed and easily added to a drink. Currently, the manufacture has added a green colored dye to the formula and reshaped the tablet into an oblong caplet form with the number 542 imprinted on it.

The most well known effect of Rohypnol is temporary memory loss. Victims under the influence cannot remember what happened to them. This fact helped the drug to be known as the "date rape drug."

Rohypnol is pretty potent; about 10 times as strong as Valium. Symptoms can appear within 10 to 20 minutes after ingestion. A single 1-milligram dose can impair a victim for as long as 12 hours.

Al Valdez is an investigator with the Orange County (Calif.) District Attorney's Office and author of the book, Gangs.