Substance Abuse - GHB

Commonly Known As: GHB, G, Liquid E, Grievous Bodily Harm, Easy Lay, Jib, Gamma-oh, blue nitro. There are close to 100 slang words for GHB.

Access to Drug: Sold at clubs, raves, parties, through dealers, and advertised on the web as a body building aid. GHB is illegal to possess or sell in the United States.

Scientific Name: Gamma Hydroxybutyrate. GHB is a rapidly acting central nervous system depressant (sedative-hypnotic).

Interesting Facts: GHB is a naturally occurring metabolite of the neurotransmitter GABA. The drug GHB was initially synthesized in the 1960’s as a sleep inducer but was discontinued because of the unpleasant side effects. Body builders took notice of GHB in the 80’s and 90’s because of its ability to change the ratio of muscle to fat and the belief it promoted growth hormones; it was available in health food stores and by mail order as a nutrient until the 1990‘s when the FDA became aware of the health risks due to abuse and took it off the market. It is also known as a “date rape” drug because the clear liquid is undetected in drinks.

Methods of Use: GHB is a powder that is usually mixed with water for recreational use. The mixture is clear with no odor and is often mistaken for water which is why some users will add a blue food dye to distinguish the liquid. Some users will sip GHB over the course of an evening, much like alcohol, while others may drink a full dose all at once.

Common Effects When Intoxicated: At low doses, the effects are similar to several drinks of alcohol with a reduction in social inhibitions, Impaired judgment, decreased motor skills, mood lift and relaxation. Increased doses produce loss of muscle control, respiratory problems, slurring of speech, nausea and grogginess. Some may slip into unconsciousness, extreme disorientation and vomiting. Overdoses can lead to convulsions and death.

Duration of Intoxication: The onset of GHB is affected by how much food someone has eaten prior to ingesting GHB. Usually, the effects can be felt within 10 to 20 minutes and last three to six hours on one dose, longer if used continuously over a period of time.

Withdrawal: Withdrawal symptoms usually appear after someone has been using GHB for several consecutive days. These include difficulty sleeping, anxiety, edginess, chest pain and tightness, muscle and bone aches, sensitivity to external stimuli such as light, and mental dullness. The symptoms can last anywhere from two days to two weeks.

Effects of Long Term Use: Because GHB is similar to alcohol in terms of addiction potential, long term use leads to an inability to stop without some form of treatment or rehabilitation. Withdrawal from long term use, up to two months, can include psychosis, Delerium tremens, rapid heart rate, seizures, and extreme agitation.

Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction: GHB is physically and psychologically addicting. Users may find the drug helpful in reducing anxiety/stress and decreasing social anxiety, however, as use continues, the body will develop withdrawal symptoms similar to alcohol/benzodiazepine withdrawal unless more of the GHB is used.

Associated Risks: Doses of GHB cannot be regulated and because of the potent nature of the hypnotic-sedative, what may seem to be a small dose, could put an individual into a coma, or even death. Due to impairment of judgment under the influence of GBH, accidents can be fatal. GHB has also been associated with rape and sexual assault on women.