GHB or gamma-hydroxybutyrate is a central nervous system depressant which usually comes in liquid form1.
At room temperature, GHB is a colour-less, odour-less, slightly oily liquid that is clear or semi-opaque. It often comes in a Gatorade bottle or fish shaped soy sauce bottles. GHB is naturally produced in the human body and in the 80’s saw popularity in the body building scene as it is known to increase human growth hormone2. First used medically as an anesthetic, GHB has become a treatment for narcolepsy under the name Zyrem although it is rarely prescribed in Australia3.
To take GHB people primarily swallow it however a minority of people may use it anally or by injection4. Do not inject street GHB as it is usually comes from a chemical supply company, as it is commonly used as a cleaning agent. For this reason, it may contain other dangerous substances which could harmful or fatal. Injecting GHB is not recommended as it heightens the risk of overdose.
GHB is often associated with sexual assault and has been referred to as a “date rape” drug5. Although there have been incidents of sexual assault involving GHB it appears to be relatively rare. A common urban myth is that you can be listed as a sex offender if caught with GHB, in truth, you will simply be prosecuted with drug possession (depending on the amount).
It is a popular choice as a dance or ‘party’ drug due to its disinhibition and mood elevating effects. This is true for the chem-sex scene also, particularly in the LGBTQIA+ community as it tends to increase sex drive and lowers inhibition6. If you are using GHB for this purpose, remember to practice safe sex and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases regularly.
The effects of GHB can vary significantly from person to person. These effects include:
- Mood increase.
- Depressed breathing.
- Loss of coordination.
- Slurring of speech.
- Blackouts and memory loss.
- Increased sex drive.
- Reduced inhibitions.
- Enhanced Sedation.
It is always best to start with a low dose when you buy a new batch to evaluate the strength. As people react differently to GHB you cannot assume you are safe to take the usual dose as others. Remember that redosing will have more potent effects than the last dose known as a ‘stacking’ effect. For this reason, its best to lower your dose a little (between .2ml or .4ml) each time and to wait at least 2 hours between doses. Always carefully dose using an oral syringe. Inform friends when you are dosing and how much. It may be helpful to write down your dose or set an alarm if you plan on redosing. NEVER DRIVE ON GHB as it causes loss of coordination8.
The doses listed here are for GHB but its important to take into account that GHB in Australia is often one of its related chemicals, GBL or 1-4 butanol. These drugs are converted into GHB in the body and are significantly more potent that GHB9.
LOW DOSE – 0.3-0.6mls.
MEDIUM DOSE – 0.6-1.25mls.
HEAVY, POSSIBLE OVERDOSE – 1.25-2mls.
GHB Overdose or ‘Blowouts”
An overdose from GHB is relatively common as it can be hard to dose safely due to adulteration, different potency between batches and GHB substitutes that may be less or more common. Take special care if you are mixing GHB with other depressant drugs such as opiates or alcohol as they can further restrict breathing and increase the chance of overdose. Overdose effects include:
- Extreme grogginess.
- Nodding and unconsciousness.
- Depressed breathing.
If the person is awake:
- Get them to sit and keep them awake by asking questions in a loud voice and shaking gently if you feel comfortable10.
- If they are struggling to regain consciousness, try pinching on the shoulders or rub your knuckles over their chest.
- Judge their response and call 000 if they deteriorate. Wait with them for them to fully recover.
If they are unconscious or not responding:
- Call 000 right away as oxygen to the brain may be reduced, resulting in brain damage.
- Roll them into the recovery position (on their side) especially if they were vomiting.
- Check breathing periodically.
Repeated dosing of GHB has been linked to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. They usually resolve themselves within three to twenty-one days and can develop in as little as a week of daily dosing. Acute withdrawal is often treated with benzodiazepines and will require hospitalization. Symptoms range from mild to severe and include:
- Trouble sleeping.
- Delirium and seizures in severe cases.
Written by Anonymous