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Gamma Hydroxybutyrate

(GHB; "G")

By

Gerald F. O’Malley

, DO, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center;


Rika O’Malley

, MD, Albert Einstein Medical Center

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
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Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is similar to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), but it can cross the blood-brain barrier and so can be taken by mouth. It is similar to ketamine Ketamine and Phencyclidine (PCP) Ketamine and phencyclidine are dissociative anesthetics that can cause intoxication, sometimes with confusion or a catatonic state. Overdose can cause coma and, rarely, death. Ketamine and phencyclidine... read more in its effects but lasts longer and is far more dangerous.

GHB produces feelings of relaxation and tranquility. It may also cause fatigue and disinhibition. At higher doses, GHB may cause dizziness, loss of coordination, nausea, and vomiting. Coma and respiratory depression may also occur. Combining GHB and any other sedative, 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 of large amounts. Symptoms are similar to those of alcohol withdrawal Withdrawal Alcohol (ethanol) is a central nervous system depressant. Large amounts consumed rapidly can cause respiratory depression, coma, and death. Large amounts chronically consumed damage the liver... read more and benzodiazepine withdrawal and can be life-threatening.

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