A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Teen Club Drug Abuse Treatment

While clubs might offer any myriad of illegal substances (or none at all), “club drugs” more commonly refers to a group of psychoactive drugs most often found and used at bars, night clubs, concerts, and parties. Some common teen club drugs include: GHB, Rohypnol, Ketamine, MDMA (Ecstasy), Methamphetamine (Meth), and LSD (Acid.)

What Does Teen Club Drug Abuse Look Like?

  • Excessive use of psychoactive drugs can lead to addiction, brain damage with long-term cognitive issues, and may trigger mental health issues ranging from depression to paranoia and psychosis.
  • Club drug abuse can cause a teen’s life to spiral out of control, leading to relationship troubles, trouble at school, lack of self-control, lack of inhibition, dangerous risk-taking behavior, self-destructive behavior, and more.
  • Some of these drugs can lead to dangerous adverse effects, including a high risk of overdose due to questionable drug purity, or infectious diseases from sharing drug paraphernalia.

Signs of Teen Club Drug Abuse

Bloodshot eyes

Tremors and shakes

Financial problems

Excessive risk-taking

Frequent tardiness

Changes in appetite

Constantly fatigued

What Kinds of Club Drugs to Teens Abuse?


MDMA is a stimulant, which means that it often increases or enhances perception and enjoyment from external stimuli. More frequently known as ecstasy or molly, MDMA lowers inhibition, induces euphoria, and increases self-awareness and empathy during a high. It is usually taken in tablet form, although because it’s usually sold as an uncontrolled street drug, it’s often mixed with a myriad of other addictive substances, including amphetamine (Adderall), methamphetamine, and ketamine.

The high or “roll” after taking ecstasy takes about 45 minutes to start, and lasts for an average of 3 hours, peaking after the first half hour. Research suggests that MDMA may be addictive, as it seems to affect dopamine systems that are commonly associated with physical dependence. The greatest risk associated with MDMA is improper dosage of the drug, and mixing the drug with other substances, often without the drug user’s knowledge.


GHB is a depressant drug approved to treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder) and misused as a recreational drug. Its restrictions for narcolepsy treatment are very strict and usage allowance is much lower than usually administered by someone abusing the drug.  GHB can be found in colorless, tasteless forms, and so is often taken mixed in with alcoholic beverages.  Because it’s difficult to detect, it’s also known to be used as a “date rape” drug, by intoxicating and incapacitating unknowing victims.

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Repetitive use of GHB can have serious and long-lasting health effects.  Repeated use can cause withdrawal effects as well as addiction and dependency.  GHB can cause seizures and coma in some people, and when combined with alcohol, can create difficulty breathing.  There are no GHB detection tests in hospitals and it remains an elusive drug to detect, and therefore, difficult to treat. Because of this, treatment for addiction or abuse of GHB usually takes place in a residential treatment facility, where the person can be monitored while going through withdrawal and making efforts toward recovery from the drug.


Rohypnol is a sedative-hypnotic drug, similar to Valium or Xanax, but is unapproved for medical use in the U.S.  It’s usually taken in pill form, either ground up and snorted or swallowed.  Rohypnol can be fatal when mixed with alcohol and/or other depressants, because using different types of depressants usually results in a multiplicative effect, drastically increasing the dangers of an overdose.


Ketamine is an anesthetic drug, usually used in veterinary practice.  It’s used for its intoxicating effect and, like GHB, is found in a colorless, tasteless form and so, is often taken with alcohol.  Because it’s a dissociative anesthetic, it distorts senses such as sound and sight, producing a sense of detachment from experience. It may also sometimes be used for the temporary treatment of chronic pain. At low doses, ketamine can cause impairment to memory, learning, and attention.  At higher doses, it can cause dreamlike states, hallucinations, delirium, and even amnesia.

Ketamine can lead a teen to develop tolerance for the drug, requiring them to take increasing amounts to produce and maintain their high, resulting in serious abuse and dependency on the drug.

What Are the Causes of Teen Club Drug Abuse?

Teens may abuse drugs for various different reasons. Some use drugs because of an insatiable curiosity, wanting to know what it feels like to be high. Others may be pressured into drug use by their environment and peers. Teens are more prone to taking drugs than older individuals, as they are generally more prone to risky behavior, and less likely to see or understand the potential long-lasting consequences of their actions.

Aside from getting involved in drug use by mistake or as a result of curiosity, some teens may use drugs as a way to cope with a stressful situation at home or at school, either as a way to increase academic performance and help with studying, or to take the edge off a particularly difficult situation. Other risk factors include:

Family history – a family history of drug abuse and addiction often suggests a higher likelihood of struggling with drug abuse. There may be a genetic factor to what makes a drug addictive for any given individual, and some get hooked on drugs much, much faster than others.

Mental illness – teens with codependent mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, may be more likely to use drugs as a way to cope with their symptoms and feel “normal”. They may crave the high they get, as it takes away the emotional pain of their disorder.

Drug use at home – early exposure to drug use normalizes it and may encourage a teen to experiment with drugs early on. This can be particularly dangerous, as early drug use correlates highly with drug problems and addiction later in life.


of 12th graders use prescription stimulants


higher drug use among teenagers who attend raves


of young adults have used ecstasy at least once

How Can I Help My Teen with Club Drug Abuse?

Spend more time with your teen – the one thing you shouldn’t do is isolate your child. It can be difficult to come to terms with your teen’s behavior, but by learning more about addiction you’ll come to understand them better. What’s important is that no matter what, you stand by your teen and offer them the help and support they need. That means keeping their best interests at heart, even when it might go against what they want. It’s normal to struggle with being clean right after a long stint of drug use, and teens often need reinforced structures and rules to help them get through the early recovery period.

Encourage healthier behavior together – a good way to stay clean is to encourage healthier behavior, the kind that reduces the likelihood for cravings to kick in. Change the way you eat at home, engage in healthy activities together (like swimming, biking, or hiking), and help your teen stick to their schedule by waking them up, organizing bed times, helping with school work, and working with them – not against them, or for them – by communicating effectively and better understanding what your teen might want to do or try out.

Work with professionals to design recovery – as a parent, your job is to be your teen’s most consistent therapist and their biggest fan. But most parents struggle with solving behavioral problems like this. It takes experience and knowledge to tackle an addiction, so work with a professional to help prepare your home so that when your teen comes back, they’ll be in the right environment to continue their recovery.

What Types of Teen Club Drug Abuse Treatment Are Available?

Residential teen club drug abuse treatment is often required for people who engage in club drug abuse, predominantly because withdrawal from these drugs can be difficult to endure, and in some cases – especially with depressants – withdrawal can be fatal. Because of this, people need to be closely monitored and cared for during the different stages of detoxification. The heart and respiratory system are especially vulnerable at this time.

Though teen club drug abuse treatment is intensive, especially in the case of addiction, people can overcome their addiction in time. Because the addiction and effects of the drug abuse are both physical and mental, therapists can help a person holistically approach how to overcome their use of the drug, address the provoking reasons that have driven a person to use, and help them develop new healthy habits to prevent them from using in the future. As is commonly the case with teen club drug abuse treatment, the earlier people get help, the quicker and more long-lasting the success they find in recovery.


One-on-one therapy can significantly help teens in recovery, provided they can be counselled in the right environment. Behavioral counseling, using methods such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help a teen identify and isolate emotions and thoughts that further worsen an addiction.

Issues with low self-esteem and depressive thinking can exacerbate drug use, by giving a teen more reasons to use drugs and escape their reality. Behavioral counseling can help a teen sort out their thoughts and find alternative ways to deal with them.

Residential Treatment

Having a place dedicated to treatment helps a lot. Teens can get by with outpatient treatment, but the risk of relapsing during recovery is higher, and the problems associated with early relapse can make it difficult to convince a teen to seek treatment again.

A drug-free environment is critical, as is having adequate support for each teen’s unique issues or codependent symptoms.

Group Support

Addiction is very much a single individual’s issue, but by treating it in a group, a skilled therapist or counselor can make use of the advantages of empathy and socialization. When teens get to see the effects of addiction through the perspective of another, it can help them better understand what they’re going through.

Teen Club Drug Abuse Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

Staying clean alone and at home is very difficult, especially for teens. Teens are less likely to resist impulses and more likely to struggle with their emotions, especially when they feel quite strongly about something. To a teen, relapsing is far more likely. Because of that, it’s important to provide the right environment when tackling drug use in teens.

A Drug-Free Environment

Paradigm Malibu offers teens a new and therapeutic environment in which to stay while remaining clean. A drug-free closed environment like Paradigm Malibu can be surprisingly effective for early recovery – alone the fact that there is no need to feel tempted can reduce thoughts of cravings and help a teen focus on other things that would be much more pertinent to recovery.

Helping Teens Adjust to Sober Living

Paradigm Malibu’s locations are all primed for therapeutic intervention – meaning, they’re designed to help teens who struggle with certain mental health issues, by providing regular classes, a daily schedule, privacy and certain freedoms, and an environment embedded in raw nature, with the opportunity to go for a hike or a swim every day.

Environments like these help teens adjust to sober living by giving them alternatives to drug use for relaxation and stress relief, while addressing their inner turmoil through regular therapy and classes, as well as preparing them for the responsibilities of school and work outside of treatment.

The best place for adolescents seeking treatment. Some of the best staff I have ever encountered. It is very structured which I feel is important to the success of recovery in minors.
- Rose M.

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Club Drug Abuse

How do I know if I need treatment?

The metric of addiction is simple, if a teen can manage to analyze their behavior objectively. If you use drugs and can’t stop using them despite clear negative effects – from relationship problems to frequent lying and a steady downward spiral mentally and at school – then you need treatment. If you can’t stay sober or clean without craving the drug and getting depressed, you need treatment. If you feel like it’s become a part of your normal day-to-day life to use the drug, you need treatment.

Ideally, however, you should strongly consider stopping drug use long before those issues arise. It’s much harder to treat an addiction, than it is to stop using drugs before they can truly take a toll on your body and mind.

No one expects to get addicted, and no one wants to go through the process of addiction, let alone the struggle of recovering and getting clean. This is why we suggest that if you’re using regularly, beginning to crave the drug, or experiencing any negative health effects, expert help is necessary. The physical risks are extremely severe and happen very quickly, so the time to get help is before - and not after - those symptoms arise.

What if I like how I feel on the drug?

There is a reason so many people become addicted to drugs and that’s because they’re enjoyable. Addictive, psychoactive drugs specifically target a system in the brain that handles how we motivate each other. It handles how we see sex, food, and physical activity. It’s responsible for a large number of very important processes, including digestion and appetite, mood regulation, and more. Drug use can distort that system, knock other things out of your mind, and make drug use your number one priority. Using drugs can be enjoyable and relaxing at first, but as your brain adjusts to frequent drug use, things can start to get scary in a way you wouldn’t appreciate.

Furthermore, if you’re using the drug regularly, you’re increasing the risk that you’re going to hurt yourself, possibly much more seriously than you intend.  There are other ways to feel good, there are better ways to live, and a drug shouldn’t be something you depend on.

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