Recovery Matters

GHB Addiction – Liquid Ecstasy – The Date Rape Drug

GHB Addiction – Liquid Ecstasy – The Date Rape Drug

Recreational Use (abuse)

At higher doses, GHB may induce nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, agitation,  visual disturbances, depressed breathing, amnesia, unconsciousness,  and death. When death is associated with GHB, it is usually in conjunction with other drugs, such as alcohol or depressants. The effects of GHB can last from 1.5 to 3 hours, or even longer if large doses have been consumed. Consuming GHB with alcohol is dangerous as it can lead to vomiting in combination with unrouseable sleep, a potentially lethal combination.

When used as a recreational drug, GHB may be found as the sodium or potassium salt, which is a white crystalline powder, or as GHB salt dissolved in water to form a clear or colored solution. The sodium salt of GHB has a salty taste. Other salt forms such as calcium GHB and magnesium GHB have also been reported, but the sodium salt is by far the most common. They may be mixed with other more harmful solvents such as paint stripper  or varnish thinner.

GHB can be easily manufactured with very little knowledge of chemistry.  Due to the ease of manufacture and the availability of its precursors, it is not mainly produced in illicit laboratories like most other synthetic drugs, but in private homes by low level producers instead. While available as a prescription for rare and severe forms of sleep disorders  such as narcolepsy in some other countries, notably most of Europe, GHB was banned in the U.S. by the FDA in 1990. However, on 17 July 2002, GHB was approved for treatment of cataplexy, often associated with narcolepsy. GHB is “colourless and odorless”.

The Facts (medical use)

γ-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), also known as 4-hydroxybutanoic acid, is a naturally occurring substance found in the human central nervous system,  as well as in wine, beef, small citrus fruits, and in small amounts in almost all animals. It is also categorized as an illegal drug in many countries. It is currently regulated in Australia and New Zealand, Canada, most of Europe and in the US. GHB as the sodium salt,  known as sodium oxybate (INN) or by the trade name Xyrem, is used to treat cataplexy  and excessive daytime sleepiness  in patients with Narcolepsy. 

GHB has been used in a medical setting as a general anesthetic, to treat conditions such as insomnia, clinical depression,  narcolepsy, and alcoholism, and to improve athletic performance. It is also used as an intoxicant (illegally) or as a date rape drug.  GHB is naturally produced in the human body’s cells and is structurally related to the ketone body ß-hydroxybutyrate.

Some althletes also use GHB as GHB has been shown to elevate human growth hormone in vivo, One study found that it doubled growth hormone secretion in normal young males.  The growth hormone elevating effects of GHB are mediated through muscarinic acetylcholine receptors and can be prevented by prior administration of pirenzepine a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor blocking agent.