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GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate)

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a central nervous system depressant, naturally present in the body in very small amounts. However, it can also be made in illegal labs and sold on the street. Because the chemicals and processes used to make GHB vary, the purity and strength of the final product are not predictable.

GHB is usually taken orally and may be sold as a white powder or as capsules. It can also be sold as a clear, colourless liquid which is odourless and tasteless, allowing it to be slipped into drinks without detection. Its sedative effects have been used to prevent victims from resisting sexual assault. For this reason, it is often called a "date rape" drug.

Also known as: fantasy, G, gamma hydroxybutyrate, liquid ecstasy, liquid X, grievous bodily harm, organic quaalude, salty water, scoop, soap, easy lay, vita-G, and georgia home boy.

Get help!

Get help if you or someone you know is using illegal drugs. Illegal drugs can be addictive and can damage your mind and body, sometimes permanently. Using illegal drugs can also result in a fine, prison sentence, and criminal record.

The effects of GHB and other illegal drugs can be unpredictable and may vary from person to person or from occasion to occasion. The effects are typically felt within 10 to 20 minutes following ingestion and may last for up to five hours. GHB may make people feel relaxed, euphoric, or sleepy. It may also cause people to lose their inhibitions. GHB can trigger nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Users may also vomit during sleep and choke. GHB can also make people feel dizzy and this sensation may last for several days after using GHB.

Short-term use of GHB can produce many other effects including:

  • loss of coordination (stumbling, jerky movements)
  • memory loss
  • loss of consciousness
  • slowed breathing
  • decreased blood pressure and heart rate
  • lowered body temperature

Taking GHB with other central nervous system depressants (like alcohol or benzodiazepines) is very dangerous. When used together, the depressive effects of these drugs on the central nervous system are greater than when each drug is used alone. This intense depression of the central nervous system can lead to respiratory arrest and ultimately death.

Short-term effects

The effects of GHB and other illegal drugs can be unpredictable and may vary from person to person or from occasion to occasion. The effects are typically felt within 10 to 20 minutes following ingestion and may last for up to five hours. GHB may make people feel relaxed, euphoric, or sleepy. It may also cause people to lose their inhibitions. GHB can trigger nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Users may also vomit during sleep and choke. GHB can also make people feel dizzy and this sensation may last for several days after using GHB.

Short-term use of GHB can produce many other effects including:

  • loss of coordination (stumbling, jerky movements)
  • memory loss
  • loss of consciousness
  • slowed breathing
  • decreased blood pressure and heart rate
  • lowered body temperature

Taking GHB with other central nervous system depressants (like alcohol or benzodiazepines) is very dangerous. When used together, the depressive effects of these drugs on the central nervous system are greater than when each drug is used alone. This intense depression of the central nervous system can lead to respiratory arrest and ultimately death.

Long-term health risks

Little is known about the long-term effects of GHB.

  • Birth defects. The extent to which GHB may harm a developing fetus is unknown.

Overdose

It is easy to take too much GHB because the amount that produces the desired or pleasurable effects is close to the amount that can cause an overdose. An overdose of GHB can cause slowed breathing, seizures, coma, and may result in death.

Important!

If you think that a person has overdosed on drugs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Addiction and withdrawal

GHB can be addictive. Regular use of GHB may lead to psychological dependence and physical dependence. People may also become tolerant to the effects of GHB with regular use.

Withdrawal symptoms may happen in people who use GHB often. Suddenly stopping GHB use may cause unpleasant and potentially dangerous effects, including:

  • anxiety
  • confusion and delirium
  • hallucinations (hearing, seeing or feeling things that aren't real)
  • paranoia (feeling suspicious, hostile or fearful)
  • difficulty sleeping
  • nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • high blood pressure
  • rapid heart rhythm (tachycardia)
  • sweating
  • tremors and muscle cramps

Death can occur during withdrawal from GHB.

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