GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate) is an endogenous substance present throughout the brain in minute quantities, it's also a popular and affordable club drug, and has been linked to date rape for its sedative properties – It's also very addictive, and the detox is tough and can be dangerous.
A single dosage of GHB will last for between 1.5 and 3 hours, and regular users may re-dose continually for a period of days. Heavy GHB use can quickly induce a physical addiction, and users stopping GHB after a period of heavy use will enter into withdrawal and detox pains within 1-6 hours of the last dosage having worn off. GHB Withdrawal pains last between 5 and 15 days, and cause a syndrome of both psychiatric and physical side effects.
Symptoms of GHB Withdrawal include:
- Severe anxiety
- High blood pressure
- Hallucinations - both aural and visual
- Heavy sweating
There has been at least one fatality linked to GHB withdrawal, and the psychiatric symptoms of hallucination and anxiety can be severe enough to require sedation or physical restraints for safety, in a hospital setting. There are some similarities between a GHB detox, and a detox from alcohol or sedative hypnotics, and many of the same treatments (lorazepam etc.) may be used.
Medical detox is strongly advised for anyone needing to withdraw off of GHB after heavy use.
GHB originated as a medication for anesthesia, producing in patients a profound state of unconsciousness, and so it is hardly surprising that when used recreationally there is a risk of overdose leading to such states of unconsciousness, or even to death.
The dose response curve for GHB is quite steep, and accidentally ingesting too much can lead to a serious overdose. Since the dosages as sold at the street level are rarely uniform, this makes the recreational consumption of GHB quite risky.
If too much GHB is taken, after an initial and intense sensation of euphoria, the person will quickly fall into a deep sedation, a GHB induced coma. If enough is taken, this coma can lead to respiratory depression, and possible death.
It is vital that anyone witnessing a friend passing into unconsciousness after GHB ingestion monitor the vital signs continuously until the person wakes up. If pulse or breathing seems slow, an ambulance must be called. If there is any uncertainty, an ambulance should be called.
GHB inhibits the gag reflex, while also causing vomiting (a possibly fatal combination) and many have died choking on vomit. Watch carefully for vomit, and ensure the victim is placed in the recovery position, (on side, arms outstretched, face side to the floor) so that vomit will not impair breathing. Even as the victim seems to be regaining some consciousness, friends must watch carefully. The victim may regain enough consciousness to roll onto their back, but not enough to get up should they start vomiting.
First response personnel must be informed of any and all drugs the victim has taken.
GHB as a Date Rape Drug
Although GHB does have a soapy or salty taste, it is colorless, and when slipped into a drink is often diluted enough to go unnoticed. GHB has been used as a date rape drug.
GHB Street Names
- Liquid E
- Liquid X (Liquid Ecstasy)
- Georgia Home Boy
- Grievous Bodily Harm
- Salty Water
- Cherry Meth
- Gamma OH
Page last updated Sep 16, 2010