The term “party drugs” refers to substances that are consumed predominantly at night when out on the town, above all in discos and clubs featuring electronic music (techno, electro, house).
The drugs are also used on other occasions, for instance to improve performance, to get in the mood for sex or to wake feelings of euphoria.
Party drugs include above all stimulants such as amphetamines (“speed”) as well as mood-enhancing and euphoric substances like ecstasy, cocaine, GHB and LSD.
The German AIDS service organization provides comprehensive information on the effects and interactions of these substances at www.hiv-drogen.de.
Medications such as the anesthetic ketamine or strong sedatives (tranquilizers) are also sometimes used as party drugs. We have prepared information on that in the section Medications.
Party drugs like cocaine, speed, ecstasy and crystal meth all have a strong stimulating effect, evoke alertness, the feeling of clarity and happiness. They eliminate the need for sleep and partially suppress feelings of hunger and thirst. With that, the danger of overloading the body grows, from overheating, for instance, or lack of fluids.
In small doses, GHB (also known as liquid ecstasy) causes euphoria and relaxation, and the sense of touch is heightened and perceived more intensely. In higher doses, the drug can cause drowsiness – and even unconsciousness. That is why GHB is also known as K.O. drops.
Consuming party drugs is often accompanied by an increased libido – which then increases one’s preparedness to take risks. It is then often no longer possible to make the conscious decision to practice safer sex.
Drugs as well as HIV medications are broken down and converted in the liver. Each of these processes can mutually weaken or strengthen the other. The consequences are unpleasant in a best-case scenario and can be fatal in the worst cases.
Thus some HIV medications hinder the break down of drugs like speed, ecstasy, crystal meth and GHB so that their effects last longer and are more intense. As a result, there is a risk of overdosing – cases of death have already occurred! (This applies in particular to ritonavir, which is found in the medications Norvir® and Kaletra®)
Certain combinations of HIV medications and drugs also damage the liver especially severely. This includes Viramune® (nevirapine) and Sustiva® (efavirenz) among others in combination with cocaine.
Party drugs can also cause or aggravate psychological side effects of HIV medications such as sleeplessness, depression and confusion.
Consuming party drugs can bring with it a variety of health risks. Since some drugs suppress the need for sleep as well as hunger and thirst, the body can potentially be overtaxed. Plus, when high on drugs, the danger of foregoing the practice of safer sex or protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases is heightened.
It can additionally result in certain risks of infection and injury. When drugs are consumed regularly, physical and psychological complications are possible.
- Risk of infection
When snorting drugs, the nasal mucous membranes are torn and often damaged as well. That is why hepatitis can be transmitted when sharing tubes or rolled up notes. Each person should use their own tube. It is best not to use rolled-up bank notes, as they are host to bacteria.
- Risk of injury
Some drugs, like the anesthetic ketamine, considerably lower the sensitivity to pain. That means that during some sexual acts (fisting, sadomasochistic practices/S&M), the body’s alert to pain fails to materialize, resulting in dangerous injuries.
The frequent use of party drugs can put serious strain on the body. Thus, for example, the liver can be damaged severely, above all when a heightened strain is already present due to HIV medications or when liver damage is already present due to hepatitis (inflammation of the liver).
Party drugs can also set off psychological illnesses such as depression, paranoia and psychosis, and aggravate the psychological side effects of HIV medications.