What is GHB?

GHB, or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate, is a sedative that is typically prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy. Several street names know the prescription drug: 

  • Liquid X
  • Mils
  • G
  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • Georgia Home Boy
  • Liquid G

The media gave GHB the nickname “the Date Rape drug” in the 1990s as it was often utilized by would-be assailants to render a victim helpless. This was usually done by putting the drug, which is often colorless and odorless, into the target’s drink. Today, GHB is often abused by club-goers in their teens and early adulthood years. It can become addictive for users.

What is GHB used for?

This drug is manufactured legally to treat narcolepsy. Its original form was as a tablet sold under the name Xyrem. The pill was sold as a name-brand drug, but the generic version of this was sodium oxybate. The Food and Drug Administration offered this prescription medication as a means of treating narcolepsy. 

Ironically enough, those who are taking Xyrem are required to be under strict physician monitoring, and patients must enroll in a restricted access program. 

It should also be stated that Gamma Hydroxybutyrate is a metabolite that occurs naturally in the brain; it is a naturally occurring metabolite in the neurotransmitter known as the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which often creates inhibition. However, the GHB that usually occurs in the brain is in much, much lower levels than that one finds when the drug is being abused. 

There may also be a small portion of natural GHB in the fermentation that eventually makes wine and beer. However, this occurrence is so tiny that the amount will not cause any changes in the user’s brain. 

Now, let’s discuss what GHB is, exactly. First, it is a depressant. This seems somewhat contradictory as a treatment for narcolepsy. Still, as Xyrem is a derivative of GHB, then it is understandable as to how the drug can alleviate the symptoms of that condition. There ARE positive side effects of taking this medication: euphoria, a feeling of calmness, and an increased sex drive are all considered to be benefits of the drug. 

GHB Addiction & Abuse

The GHB that is better known as the “Date Rape Drug” does not possess a smell, and it can be put a victim’s drink without changing the color of a light-colored beverage. There are those who say that the Date Rape drug does have a slight taste; it can be either salty or even soapy. The depressant or sedative effects of the drug typically cause incapacitation to the user. 

Also, some body-builders use GHB for its anabolic effects on the body. The protein synthesis created by the drug can build muscle and reduce fat in the user. 

The typical user does not obtain GHB via a prescription pill, however. The regular user is a high school or college student attending raves or parties, and they purchase the drug on the streets in the form of a liquid or a white powdered material. It can also be purchased via the Internet. 

The GHB found in this manner is often manufactured in illegal labs, and there is always the potential for unknown ingredients to contaminate the final product. 

In 1990, the Food and Drug Administration declared Gamma Hydroxybutyrate illegal and unsafe for use unless a physician-administered the drug under certain, highly monitored circumstances. As of March 2000, the Controlled Substances Act placed GHB as a Schedule I drug. Those who take Xyrem as a prescription drug are consuming (legally) a Schedule III drug; however, if the drug is taken in a manner inconsistent with that of the prescribed protocol, then it is re-classified as a Schedule I drug (and therefore illegal). 

What are the signs of GHB abuse?

At low doses, GHB can induce euphoric feelings in the user. However, friends and family are more likely to notice their loved one displaying signs of blackouts and amnesia. Before causing one to lose consciousness, users claim there are similar effects shown as when one is drunk from alcohol use. 

Users also report incidences of hallucinations as well as slipping into a coma. 

 Most of the signs of abuse of this drug include:

  • clumsiness
  • headache
  • confusion
  • exhaustion

What are the signs of someone overdosing on GHB?

Typical symptoms of an overdose from this drug include sweating, vomiting, a sudden loss of consciousness, and a decrease in breathing. 

It is important to remember that one who overdoses on this drug requires medical attention immediately; this is a medical emergency. 

How long does GHB stay in the body of the user?

GHB typically leaves the system of the user after twenty-four hours. It cannot be detected in one’s urine after that time. 

What are the dangers of mixing GHB and alcohol?

First, this is a huge trend for many users. Yet, both alcohol and GHB are depressants on one’s system, so the use of alcohol is likely to increase the impact of the drug on the system. Mixing these two elements can be a fatal mistake, even if it is the first time a person has done so. The chief danger exists in that the Central Nervous System tends to slow down dramatically for the user. The heart and brain may cease to function. 

Often, a person who has mixed these two elements will become nauseous and vomit. They may also hallucinate. If this person passes out, seek medical attention immediately. 

Is GHB addictive?

It is possible to become addicted to the use of GHB, particularly if the user takes repeated small doses of the drug. Over time, the user will build up a tolerance to the drug, and he or she will take more to achieve the same effects. This can lead to addiction. 

GHB is a highly dangerous drug that can be fatal when misused, especially if it is mixed with alcohol or other depressants. Although it was highly popular in the 1990s, users have begun to realize that the drug is highly dangerous. If you suspect your loved one may have a problem with GHB, there are opportunities for treatment.