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GHB Abuse Facts – Drug Use

Updated 27 October 2022 Written by Clint MallyClinically Reviewed by Sarah Fletcher, LPC, LAC
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GHB Abuse

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy, a brain condition that causes people to fall asleep too easily. Unfortunately, GHB is also abused, especially by teens and young adults.

Young people sometimes use it to relieve their anxiety, help them relax and make them feel calm. In addition, illicit GHB use is popular at dance clubs, where it enhances users’ sense of connection with the people around them. GHB also heightens users’ senses and makes them feel good.

In addition to these effects, GHB has another dark side – as date rape drug. Sexual predators can slip it into a victim’s drink, making them passive, vulnerable to assault and unlikely to remember what’s happening while they’re under the influence.

As a synthetic drug, GHB is made from chemicals that are also used in pesticides and solvents, such as polyurethane. It appears in white powder form, as well as in clear liquid and pill forms. Some of the more well-known street names for GHB include G, Goop, Liquid E, Liquid X, Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy, Grievous Bodily Harm, Easy Lay, Soap, Scoop and Cherry Meth.

Because of GHB’s harmful effects, including the possibility of addiction, coma and death, a teenager or young adult who is using it should seek help immediately.

Effects and Risks of GHB Use

GHB is a depressant, meaning it subdues the central nervous system. Once someone ingests it, it takes 15 to 30 minutes to feel its effects, which last a few hours. In addition to its positive effects, GHB can cause major health problems. The higher the dose taken, the more serious the effects will be. These can include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Reduced breathing rate
  • Lowered body temperature
  • Lowered awareness
  • Loss of memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Loss of coordination/muscle control

Beyond these effects, regular usage of GHB can lead to dependence. When a GHB-dependent person tries to quit, they will experience withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, increased blood pressure and, in some cases, psychosis.

One of the most serious risks of the substance is its use in sexual assaults. Because GHB is odorless, colorless and virtually tasteless, and because it dissolves quickly in drinks, it’s often used as a date-rape drug. It can be put into a victim’s drink without them knowing, making them passive, vulnerable to assault and less likely to remember what happened to them.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has classified GHB as a predatory drug.

How is GHB Taken?

GHB is usually consumed orally, in its liquid or powder form. Young adults and teens often buy it at parties or clubs in small amounts of its liquid form. In addition to being taken at parties, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts sometimes take GHB because they think it helps them build muscles or lose weight.

Other ways that people take GHB include mixing it into alcoholic drinks and other beverages, and ingesting it along with other drugs like marijuana.

Signs and Symptoms of GHB Use

If your teen or young adult comes home from a party without remembering what happened, GHB use – intentional or unintentional – should be a concern. People who are misusing the drug also sometimes demonstrate a change in mood or personality.

If your teen or young adult frequently disappears for a few minutes (supposedly for a “nap” or trip to the bathroom) and reappears in a very different mood, watch for other physical symptoms of GHB use. Young people who use GHB can develop a physical dependence on the drug. If you see the following signs, dependence is a possibility:

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Loss of memory
  • Decline in grades
  • Loss of interest in school

What to do if You Think Your Child is Abusing GHB

If a teen or young adult that you know is using GHB, they need help. The longer they are on the drug, the more difficult it will be for them to get off it. Drug addiction also leads to other high-risk behaviors such as crime, risky sexual behavior, problems at work and school, relationship issues and financial difficulties.

Sandstone Care can help. If you think your teen might need treatment, talk to us – we’re available seven days a week to help you with any questions you have at (888) 850-1890.

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