GHB is the street name for the substance gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. GHB has many common names, among them “Grievous Bodily Harm”.
Others include Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid Fantasy, G, Liquid X, Liquid E, and Scoop or Soap. Along with Rohypnol, which is commonly known as “Roofies” or “The Date Rape Drug”, GHB is a club drug and synthetic downer (man-made, central nervous system depressant) intended to cause lowered inhibitions and a euphoric sensation.
It is also known for being maliciously “slipped” into the beverages of unknowing individuals in social settings by persons maliciously seeking to take sexual advantage of GHB’s inhibition-lowering and sedative effects.
Is GHB Legal?
GHB is illegal to manufacture, purchase, possesses, or distribute without a controlled substances license, in which case doctors may prescribe it in the form of the prescription medication Xyrem.
GHB – The Club Drug
GHB is frequently taken by teens and young adults in club and party settings. It is highly addictive, highly dangerous, and poses serious direct and indirect risks and consequences for individuals using it.
GHB Health Risks, Side Effects, and Addiction Issues
GHB users experience a euphoric effect, but it has unpredictable side effects that can cause severe harm.
Sometimes, instead of creating a sedative effect, a GHB causes extreme agitation including hallucinations. Other side effects may include uncontrollable bodily movements, incoherency, nausea, vomiting, decreased body temperature, aggression, confusion, anxiety, depression, other mood disturbances, increased sexual drive, urinary incontinence, amnesiac episodes, and out-of-character, high-risk behaviours.
It is very easy to take an overdose, especially when combined with alcohol. Large doses, doses of unknown concentration (which is all of them, since it is unregulated and made in illicit labs), and combining GHB with alcohol can lead to coma, seizure or death due to the suppression of the central nervous system and the individual’s breathing.
GHB is highly addictive. A complicating factor in helping an individual understand the dangers of GHB is they may have no memory of their behaviours or events that occur while they are under the influence of GHB due to the amnesic effects of the drug.
GHB – ‘Date Rape’ Drug
GHB is an odourless liquid and is undetectable when added to drinks. It sedates victims and renders them vulnerable to sexual assault.
Signs that your drink may have been spiked with GHB
- A salty taste to your drink,
- Feeling significantly more intoxicated than normal for the amount of alcohol consumed,
- Sudden onset of nausea despite not having drunk much alcohol,
- Feeling significantly more hungover than normal for the amount of alcohol consumed;
- A gap in memory after taking a drink;
- Vague feelings that one has engaged in sex but can’t remember what happened.
If you suspect your drink has been spiked firstly tell a trusted friend and have them take you to a safe place. Don’t accept help from a stranger. If you feel unwell, someone you trust should take you to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department. Tell the medical staff that you think your drink has been spiked. Report it to the police as soon as you can.
GHB Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal from GHB use may include elevated heart rate and blood pressure (and associated complications), anxiety, tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and psychosis. However, given the wide range of responses individuals have to GHB use, there are extensive possible symptoms of GHB withdrawal.
Where to Find Help for GHB Addiction
GHB can have devastating consequences for individuals using it, particularly due to the high risk of vulnerability to assault and death. Castle Craig’s team of treatment professionals understand how GHB addiction can turn someone’s world upside down, and we are here to help with compassionate, safe, and expert treatment programmes to help individuals recover from GHB use.
Medical Assessment and Detox for GHB Addiction
There is very little information available in scientific/medical literature about treatment for people who abuse or are dependent upon GHB and very little is known about its metabolism within the body.
Treatment for GHB addiction follows our abstinence-based, 12 Step philosophy approach to drug treatment. Treatment plans are individualised for each patient.
On admission, a patient receives a urine and blood test to determine their overall well being, the extent of kidney function/damage and evidence of muscle breakdown. We take a clinical history and ask the patient and their family to co-operate with the doctors and reveal what substances, including GHB, the patient has been taking. Our doctors medically assess the patient to observe their vital physical signs: alertness, pupillary size, heart rate, blood pressure.
Once the patient is stable we monitor them for signs of drug withdrawal and treat these symptoms accordingly. We have an experienced medical and nursing team who help patients through the detoxification process at Castle Craig Hospital, and they are given 24/7 medical coverage and all the support they need.
Our Therapeutic Programme for GHB Addiction
We recognise drug addiction as a disease of the brain and we believe that abstinence is the only possible way to achieve a full recovery. Our clinically-proven drug treatment programme, including 12 Step therapy and other psychotherapies including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and EMDR are used to help change negative thoughts, attitudes and behaviours that block recovery, and treat the root cause of the drug addiction. Patients are taught relapse prevention and family members also receive therapy sessions. Visit our treatment section to find out more information about drug rehabilitation at Castle Craig.
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | September 10, 2021