Club drugs, popular for years at all night clubs and dance parties in the city, are becoming more mainstream. Classified as club drugs are ecstasy (methylenedioxymeth-amphetamine), ketamine, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate), Rohypnol and methamphetamine. The availability of these club drugs is increasing in nearly every city across the nation, including Atlanta. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, all of the club drugs are prevalent in Atlanta, with methamphetamine the second most widely used drug in the community behind cocaine. Ecstasy, GHB and ketamine are also widely popular in Atlanta and have been identified as growing in popularity over the past year.
Research has shown that the use of club drugs can cause serious health problems, especially when used in combination with other drugs. A drug interaction can occur when two or more drugs are taken during the same period of time, altering the effects of the drugs, potentially causing serious harm. The following is a list of the club drugs most popular in the Atlanta area, with information about these drugs' effects on the body and potential drug interaction side effects with HIV medications.
When methamphetamine is taken with protease inhibitors, there is an expected increase in the potency of the recreational drug of two to three times. With this increase in potency comes the increased likelihood of an overdose. According to Project Inform, research shows that Norvir is predicted to have the greatest increase of potency on this recreational drug. However, any increase in potency of a recreational drug, because of a drug interaction, has potential for causing serious harm and even death.
When taken while on a drug regimen for HIV, MDMA can have potentially harmful interactions with protease inhibitors. Some HIV medications slow down the liver enzyme that metabolizes MDMA. This causes the dose of MDMA to increase in potency because of the length of time the body needs to process the drug due to the decrease in liver enzymes available for metabolism. This increase in recreational drug potency increases the potential for drug overdose.
GHB has very serious effects on the body. There is an important distinction between the effects of a low to moderate dose of this drug and a high dosage, which could lead to serious, negative side effects. Because everyone's body metabolizes drugs differently, there is a fine line between the "right" dosage and too high a dose. This uncertainty creates a very dangerous drug, even without the additional effects due to drug interactions. GHB is even more dangerous in combination with protease inhibitors. The combination of these two drugs can lead to a five to tenfold increase in GHB potency within the body.
Ketamine directly effects one's liver through the metabolizing process. When combined with protease inhibitors, this recreational drug can lead to a "chemical hepatitis," which is an inflammation of the liver, causing jaundice. Although further studies are needed to determine the long-term effects this drug combination has on the liver, it is important to recognize that damage is being done to the liver which could potentially lead to liver failure.
Drug interactions are serious and it is the intent of this article to educate about the possible side effects of club drugs and the effects of the interactions between club drugs and HIV medication. This information is meant for educational purposes only. It neither endorses nor encourages the use of recreational drugs. Nothing contained here should be regarded in any way as a substitute for medical advice from a qualified physician or other health care provider who is familiar with all of the details of your situation. There are several resources available to provide more information about club drugs and their effects on your body and your HIV medication. Please visit AIDS Survival Project's Treatment Resource Center during regular business hours or call us at (404) 874-7926.