Primer: GHB, a Club Drug
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is a fast-acting drug. It’s a depressant that impairs
the central nervous system. It was once sold as a food supplement. But it is now known
as a club drug. It’s popular among teens attending all-night dance parties, or raves.
GHB was first used as an anesthetic in the 1960s. Later it was sold in health food
stores as a performance enhancer for bodybuilders. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
banned GHB in 1990. It is now a Schedule I controlled substance.
GHB produces a feeling of euphoria and hallucinations. It’s often made in secret labs
with low-cost ingredients. It's usually sold as a liquid by the dose (a capful from
a bottle or drops). In some cities, GHB is put into water guns and users buy it by
the squirt. In other instances, candy, such as a lollipop, is dipped in GHB and sold.
Among users, GHB has many names. They include:
Grievous Bodily Harm
Georgia Home Boy
GHB’s effects on the body
GHB is addictive. It’s hard to predict a person’s reaction to it. The purity and strength
of doses vary. In general, a user starts to feel the drug 15 to 30 minutes after taking
it. Those feelings may last 3 to 6 hours.
GHB’s high is similar to alcohol. Taking less than 1 gram makes a person feel relaxed
and reduces inhibitions. At 1 to 2 grams, heart rate and breathing slow down. Balance
and coordination are affected, too. GHB may also cause vomiting, high blood pressure,
mood swings, violent behavior, and vertigo.
At higher doses, coordination and speech are strongly impaired. The person may drift
into a coma-like sleep. Its effects are stronger when combined with alcohol. Its withdrawal
symptoms include sweating, insomnia, muscle cramping, tremors, and anxiety. Excessive
use can also lead to breathing problems, tremors, and death. An overdose can occur
GHB is considered a “date-rape” drug. It is odorless, colorless, and nearly tasteless.
It has a slightly salty taste. It can be easily slipped into drinks. It can make a
person feel less inhibited and increase sexual feelings. It can also cause amnesia.
An unsuspecting user may not be able to resist a sexual assault. No tests are available
to spot GHB use so many GHB incidents go undetected.
A GHB overdose is an emergency. If you think you may have taken GHB, seek medical
help right away. Although some people may not seem to have bad reactions to GHB, the
drug can be fatal. Signs of an overdose include:
Loss of consciousness