Primer: GHB, a Club Drug
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is a fast-acting illegal drug. It’s a depressant that
slows down the central nervous system. It was once sold as a food supplement. But
it is now known as a club drug. It’s popular with teens who go to all-night dance
parties (sometimes called 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 FDA banned GHB in 1990. It
is now a Schedule I controlled substance.
GHB produces a feeling of intense happiness (euphoria) and hallucinations. It’s often
made in secret labs with low-cost ingredients. It's often 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 a feeling of spinning and dizziness (vertigo).
At higher doses, coordination and speech are strongly affected. The person may drift
into a coma-like sleep. Its effects are stronger when taken with alcohol. Its withdrawal
symptoms include sweating, trouble sleeping (insomnia), muscle cramping, shaking (tremors),
and anxiety. Using GHB too much can also lead to breathing problems, tremors, and
death. An overdose can happen in minutes.
GHB is considered a date-rape drug. It is odorless, colorless, and nearly tasteless.
It has a slightly salty taste. But the taste can be changed with additives. It can
be easily slipped into drinks. It can make a person feel less inhibited and increase
sexual feelings. It can also cause memory loss (amnesia). A person who is not aware
they were given GHB 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. Some people may not seem to have bad reactions to GHB. But the drug
can be fatal. Signs of an overdose include:
Loss of consciousness