NIH News Release
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Institute on Drug Abuse

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE
Thursday, December 2, 1999
10:00 a.m. EST

Contacts: Beverly Jackson
Michelle Muth
(301) 594-6141

Club Drugs Take Center Stage in New National Education and
Prevention Initiative by NIDA and National Partners

Initiative Includes Research Funding and Community Outreach

As part of a national initiative to combat the increasing use of club drugs, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) today announced that it will raise its funding for research about club drugs and what to do about them by 40 percent, bringing the total committed to this important effort to $54 million. In addition, NIDA and four national organizations launched a multi-media public education strategy to alert teens, young adults, parents, educators and others about the dangers of club drugs such as Ecstasy, GHB and Rohypnol, which are often used at all night "raves" or dance parties and have potentially life-threatening effects.

"Club drugs are not harmless 'fun drugs.' While users of club drugs may think they're taking them simply for energy to keep on dancing or partying, research shows these drugs can have long-lasting negative effects on the brain that can alter memory function and motor skills. When these drugs are combined with alcohol, they become even more dangerous and potentially life-threatening," said Dr. Alan I. Leshner, NIDA Director.

Joining forces with NIDA are the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Join Together, and National Families in Action (NFIA). These organizations also have been tracking the growth of club drugs throughout the United States, especially among youth and young adults.

At a news conference in Washington, DC, that coincided with CADCA's annual meeting, Dr. Leshner outlined how NIDA and its partners will work together to increase the public's awareness of the effects these drugs may have on the physical and mental health of the nation's youth.

"In addition to committing substantially more funds for much-needed research, we are using a multi-media education strategy that includes a specially-designed website — www.clubdrugs.org — to get the word out across the country about the dangers of club drugs," Dr. Leshner explained.

As a way of reaching teens and young adults, the Institute also will distribute 330,000 free postcards throughout Washington, DC, New York City, and 200 shopping malls nationwide during December. The postcards, available at "HotStamp" racks in restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bookstores, and other locations, feature brain scans showing the sharp difference in human brain function for an individual who has never used drugs and one who used Ecstasy many times.

NIDA and its partners also will distribute 250,000 copies of a Community Drug Alert Bulletin that explains what science has revealed about the effects of six drugs-Ecstasy, GHB, Ketamine, Rohypnol, Methamphetamine, and LSD. The Bulletin includes some of the slang or street names for these drugs and lists some of the locations where their use has been reported.

"CADCA's national network of community coalitions is positioned locally to detect and act on new trends in substance abuse. Our distribution of the Bulletin to our members, who represent neighborhoods across the country, will provide them with a powerful educational tool to address this dangerous problem," said CADCA Chairman and CEO Arthur T. Dean.

The Bulletin states that NIDA's research shows that the use of club drugs can cause serious health problems, including hallucinations, paranoia, amnesia, and depression. It also states that because some club drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless, they can be added unobtrusively to beverages by individuals who want to intoxicate or sedate others. Two of the drugs, GHB and Rohypnol, have been associated with "date rape" and sexual assault cases around the country.

"We are particularly concerned about the negative impact of club drugs on college students. That's why we're helping launch International Students in Action, a group committed to educating fellow students across the nation about the dangers of drug use, particularly club drug use," said Sue Rusche, executive director of National Families in Action.

David Rosenbloom, Ph.D., the director of Join Together, noted, "We are pleased to be a part of this initiative because it furthers our ongoing efforts to assist communities in harnessing their collective resources to develop a comprehensive strategy in response to substance abuse." Join Together, which is a national resource for community-based efforts to reduce substance abuse and gun violence, is a project of the Boston University School of Public Health.

"The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry prides itself on responding quickly to new developments that address the health care needs of children and their families. It is with this sense of urgency that we join forces with NIDA in alerting our members and the patients they serve to the alarming increase in club drug use and the serious health consequences that can ensue," said Clarice Kestenbaum, M.D., president, AACAP.

NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute also carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish, by calling NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (-644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (-889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov.