What is GHB?
Description of GHB?
Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a naturally occurring chemical that can be found in human cells. As a supplement or drug, GHB acts as a strong sedative that depresses the central nervous system, affecting various neurotransmitters, including GABA, dopamine, and serotonin, so that users feel sleepy and experience slower breathing. Commercially, GBH was first marketed in health food stores as a “growth hormone stimulator”, which people took as a means of enhancing physical performance, reducing stress, inducing sleep, building muscle, and burning fat. Because of its euphoric or intoxicating effects, GHB has also become a popular social drug for parties, clubs, and raves, where it is branded “G” or “liquid ecstasy.” These effects can make GHB lethal when combined with other depressants, such as alcohol. It’s also been connected to cases of date rape. In March 2000, the Federal Government classified GHB as a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has no currently accepted medical uses. GHB that used recreationally is manufactured and sold illegally.
Alternatives for GHB include GBL (gammabutyrolactone) and BD (1, 4 butanediol) – precursors to GHB that convert to GHB in the body. Neither of these is approved for human consumption, but are available legitimately as cleaning and manufacturing chemicals.
What is the Scientific Name of GHB?
- Gamma Hydroxybutyrate
- Sodium 4-Hydroxybutyrate
- 4-Hydroxybutanoic Acid
What is the Chemical Formula of GHB?
What is the Origin of GHB?
GHB was first synthesized in 1874, by Russian chemis Alexander Zaytsev, but it was not introduced into medicine until the 1960s. The drug was used as an anesthetic widely in Europe until researchers determined it had poor painkilling effects. During the 1970’s, GHB was used to treat narcolepsy, but eventually it was found that its euphoric side effects made it both ineffective and unpopular. In the 1980s GHB was marketed as a growth hormone stimulator and used to burn fat and develop muscle, increasing its popularity. Use began to intensify in the 1980’s when it was marketed as a fat burner and muscle developer. Reports of GHB-linked illness led the FDA to declare the drug unsafe in 1990; it was removed from store shelves, making it difficult for users to purchase the product. After that, many GHB manufacturers switched production to GBL and BD muscle enhancers and sleep aids. GBL-based products, which had never been approved for human consumption, were recalled by the FDA in 1999. It was about this time that FHB became popular as a “party drug” due to its euphoric and aphrodisiac effects. It was federally classified as a Schedule I drug in March 2000.
What is the Legal Status of GHB in the US?
GHB is a Schedule I Drug
What are the common street names of GHB?
- Bedtime Scoop
- Chemical X
- Cherry Meth
- Clear X
- Easy Lay
- Energy Drink
- Gamma 10
- Gamma Oh
- Georgia Home Boy
- Great Hormones
- Great Hormones at Bedtime
- Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)
- Growth Hormone Booster
- Liquid Dream
- Liquid E
- Liquid Ecstasy
- Liquid G
- Liquid X
- Salt Water
- Scoop Her
How is GHB Used?
When acquired illicitly, most GHB comes as a clear liquid that is odorless and almost tasteless (some users have reported a slight salty taste). It can be sold in a variety of containers including vitamin bottles, eyedroppers, and water bottles. The substance is mixed with a beverage, such as water or alcohol, for consumption. While not as prevalent as liquid forms of GHB, it is also possible to get it as a powder, which is ingested in the same way. Both forms are available in a large range of concentrations, and there is no way for users to know how strong the solution is, which makes the possibility of overdose highly risky.
How Long Does GHB Stay in Your System?
The duration of the drug’s effect depends upon the concentration of the dose, as well as whether or not it is being used in combination with other drugs, particularly alcohol and other depressants. Generally, the effects of taking GBH are first felt 10 to 20 minutes after ingestion, and start to level off at 45 minutes to 1½ hours later, decreasing steadily thereafter. Effects persist for three to six hours, unless mixed with alcohol or other drugs, in which case the effects can last from 36 to 72 hours. After-effects include grogginess and sleepiness, which can last little as two hours or as long as twelve hours. The precise nature and duration of the effects depend on the dose the user has ingested. A very high dose can lead to unconsciousness or coma in as little as five minutes.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Short-Term GHB Use?
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Long-Term GHB Addiction?
What are the Long-Term Effects of GHB Use on the Body?
- Chronically Impaired Judgment
- Chronically Impaired Memory
- Drug Craving
- Drug Dependence
- Slurred Speech
- Vision Problems
What are the Long-Term Effects of GHB Use on Behavior?
How to diagnose if you are Addicted to GHB?
Signs that a person may be using GHB include, but are not limited to:
- Change in Personality or Behavior
- Decrease in School or Work Performance
- Mood Swings
- Problems Remembering Things That Recently Happened
- Severe Headaches
- Trouble Sleeping
What are the Withdrawal Effects of GHB?
How is GHB Addiction Treated?
Professional treatment for GHB addiction include detox and psychological counseling. Detox should take place in a medical facility, because the side effects can harmful if not monitored. Acute delirium is common, and can be treated with large doses of benzodiazepines. Typically, withdrawal symptoms will persist for three to twelve days. During the inpatient treatment, staff at the facility will also address problems connected with the addiction, such as malnutrition, depression, insomnia, and anxiety. They can also treat alcohol addiction, which is a common co-occurring condition with GHB addiction.
Once detox and withdrawal are complete, entry into an GHB addiction rehabilitation program is recommended, where patients undergo therapy to address the roots of the addiction and establish strategies to avoid relapse in the future.
What is the Extent of GHB Use?
The prevalence of GHB use has been surveyed regularly since 2000, as part of the Monitoring the Future Survey. Statistics show that rates have remained low among 8th through 12th graders in the U.S. GHB, predominately with alcohol use, was connected to a minimum of 60 deaths between January 1992 and May 2001. Approximately 60 percent of those deaths were among people in their 20s. Survey data also indicate that between 1994 and 2000 the number of emergency room visits connected to GHB or GBL rose from 56 in to 4,969 in 2000.