Ecstasy are imprinted with smiley faces and cartoon characters, so it may look like friendly and harmless substance, but club drugs like this can kill one’s life. Administrators and drug counselors share strategies to warn students about this growing danger.
A large X on the door of a frat house does not mean that the occupants are hosting a calculus study session. And if students begin carrying around bottles of Visine, chances are it's not because they're suddenly pulling all-nighters to make the grade. Instead, these may be signs that "club drugs," named for their association with all-night parties at dance clubs, have made their way onto your campus.
"X" Rooms, a growing phenomenon, indicate places where students are getting high on ecstasy, and Visine bottles are a convenient place to store the clear, liquid drug Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, commonly known as GHB.
Although those interviewed by Matrix said most college students don't use drugs, club drugs are becoming the drugs of choice for those who do. According to the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 17 percent of people aged 18 to 20 used illegal drugs in 1997. In 1998, the same age group's use rose to 19.9 percent.
Ecstasy, methamphetamine, GHB, rohypnol, and ketamine are the substances experts are particularly worried about, Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said.
"Alcohol is the first and oldest club drug," Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said. "To address club drugs administrators have to address the issue of drinking because if students are in a setting where their judgment is impaired from alcohol, issues like club drugs become more important."
These drugs have been around for years, but all of the early warning signs are saying use is starting to go up. The Drug Abuse Warning Network, a national probability survey of hospitals with emergency departments, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, shows an increase in GHB-related emergency room visits from 55 in 1994 to 1,282 in 1998. Rohypnol went from 13 cases in 1994 to 623 in 1998, and ecstasy went from 250 in 1994 to 1,142 in 1998. Ketamine- and methamphetamine-related emergency room visits have increased overall from 1994 but decreased from 1997 to 1998.
"It has not yet reached crisis proportions, but we are trying to get ahead of potential crisis proportions to prevent an epidemic," Leshner said.
Studies show that people between the ages of 18 and 29 take most of these synthetic club drugs. College students in particular have easy access to them because they are Internet savvy, which allows them to connect with manufacturers or find recipes to make the drugs themselves. And, a lot of misinformation on the Web is leading students to believe GHB is safe.