India’s huge teenage population is being targeted by foreign drug peddlers to flourish their business. Monitoring club drugs is becoming very difficult as they continue to evolve and be modified. In the last few years, upper-middle class Indians have massively taken to ecstasy and clubbing and there are more women among them.

A review article in the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) journal has said that foreigners have been arrested for peddling illegal Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ecstasy and cocaine, at various rave parties in Bangalore and Mumbai. In the north, Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu Valley is now known for its full-moon-night jungle wild parties. A large number are Israelis, most of them fresh from the frazzle of military service, dance to psychedelic music on full moon nights smoking hashish. Bangalore is baptized as the Silicon Valley of India and has turned into a rave hotspot.

Only collective effort can stop this menace from engulfing the society. All health professionals should remain well informed regarding club drugs and their management protocol, the article says.

‘Club drugs’ which include Ecstasy, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), ketamine, and Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), have become popular with participants in ‘raves’, because they are perceived to enhance energy, endurance, sociability and sexual arousal. These drugs vary in their pharmacologic properties, physiological and psychological effects, and potential consequences. The use of club drugs by young people has increased in the last decade, and continue to get modified and evolve, making them very difficult to monitor. Further, these drugs are not picked up by routine drugs screening procedures, thereby making these popular with the criminals, suggests — “Club drugs: Review of the rave with a note of concern for the India scenario”, authored by Kaustav Chakraborty, Rajarshi Neogi and Debasish Basu at the Drug De-addiction & Treatment Centre, Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh.

Despite the nature and extent of this problem in India, this area has been under-researched. Data from India is sparse barring a few newspaper and police reports. Keeping abreast of current trends in club drug use prepares the clinician to recognise the clinical effects of club drug use, to manage club drug related emergencies, and to generate social awareness.

‘Raves’ are parties with loud, electronic “techno-rock” music, laser light shows, and all-night dancing held in clandestine locations, including warehouses, nightclubs, and farm fields. These first became popular in Great Britain in the late 1980s. The underground or non-commercial music featured at raves which is produced by computers and include little or no vocals is distinct from the music played at conventional nightclubs. Following bans in some countries the rave parties moved in to legitimate nightclubs. Not all ravers use drugs, however, many illicit drugs are available at raves and are used liberally to enhance the “vibe”.

The first nationwide survey to obtain information on extent, pattern and magnitude of substance abuse in the country indicated new emerging trend of substance use in India with amphetamine like substances (ATS) are being more used in regions like Goa and Ahmedabad.

With technological advancement and particularly the information technology sector coming up in a big way in India, suddenly there is a neo-rich young generation. This is often coupled with the need to escape temporarily from the severe work pressure and social isolation created by this lifestyle. With drug licensing and controlling authorities focusing more on licit and traditional illicit drugs, club drugs have caught the fancy of this neo-rich young generation.

The raves of Goa are said to be started by the Hippies. Earlier raves meant loud music, alcohol and cannabis abuse. Since the late eighties, psychedelic culture in the northern village of Anjuna became increasingly concentrated on free outdoor parties with a particular subgenre of electronic dance music.

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