Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB or "G") is a drug taken by mouth, usually in liquid form. It is similar to ketamine Ketamine and Phencyclidine (PCP) Ketamine and phencyclidine are chemically similar drugs used for anesthesia but are sometimes used recreationally. Ketamine is available in powder and liquid form. The powder can be snorted... read more or alcohol Alcohol Use Alcohol (ethanol) is a depressant (it slows down brain and nervous system functioning). Consuming large amounts rapidly or regularly can cause health problems, including organ damage, coma,... read more in its effects.
(See also Drug Use and Abuse Overview of Substance-Related Disorders Medications and other substances, whether used for legitimate medical purposes, as a habit (for example, caffeine), or recreationally, are an integral part of everyday life for many people ... read more .)
Symptoms of GHB Use
GHB produces feelings of relaxation and tranquility. It may also cause fatigue and feelings of being uninhibited.
At higher doses, GHB may cause
Loss of coordination
At high doses, GHB can also slow breathing and cause seizures Seizure Disorders In seizure disorders, the brain's electrical activity is periodically disturbed, resulting in some degree of temporary brain dysfunction. Many people have unusual sensations just before a seizure... read more and coma Stupor and Coma Stupor is unresponsiveness from which a person can be aroused only by vigorous, physical stimulation. Coma is unresponsiveness from which a person cannot be aroused and in which the person's... read more , sometimes leading to death. Combining GHB and any other sedatives, especially alcohol, is extremely dangerous. Most deaths have occurred when GHB was taken with alcohol.
Withdrawal symptoms occur if GHB is not taken for several days after previous frequent use. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of alcohol withdrawal Withdrawal symptoms Alcohol (ethanol) is a depressant (it slows down brain and nervous system functioning). Consuming large amounts rapidly or regularly can cause health problems, including organ damage, coma,... read more (including tremor, headache, sweating, nausea, and seizures) and can be life threatening.
Diagnosis of GHB Use
A doctor's evaluation
Diagnosis is based on symptoms in people known to have used GHB. No readily available tests can confirm the use of GHB.
Treatment of GHB Use
Observation and monitoring until the person is sober
Sometimes assistance with breathing
Treatment complications from GHB use is directed at symptoms. A ventilator Mechanical Ventilation Mechanical ventilation is use of a machine to aid the movement of air into and out of the lungs. Some people with respiratory failure need a mechanical ventilator (a machine that helps air get... read more may be needed if breathing is affected. Most people recover rapidly.
The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): GHB-specific information from the federal agency that supports scientific research into drug use and its consequences and supplies information about commonly used drugs, research priorities and progress, clinical resources, and grant and funding opportunities.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): US Department of Health agency that leads public health efforts to improve behavioral health and provides resources, including treatment locators, toll-free helplines, practitioner training tools, statistics, and publications on a variety of substance-related topics.