What is GHB?
Also known as Liquid X, Liquid Ecstasy, Oop, or Fantasy, GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate) is a highly dangerous drug because of its odorless and colorless properties making it hard to detect. Since it is commonly mixed with alcohol, its mild salty and soapy taste can be hard to notice. GBH is commonly referred to as the “date rape drug” or the “club drug,” because it’s often slipped into alcoholic beverages at parties, bars, and clubs. The drug is purposely given to prospective sexual assault victims, so they lose consciousness, become sedated, and form amnesia so they can’t resist sexual assault.
GHB can be bought on the streets or over the internet either as a white powder or liquid form. The drug is manufactured in illegal labs, produced commonly from the combination of a solvent used to strip floors, GBL, which is a drain cleaner. Its toxicity made the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declare GHB “unsafe and illegal” except when physician-supervised. Xyrem (sodium oxybate), the sodium salt of the drug, was named a Schedule III controlled substance by the FDA, requiring all consumers of the drug to enroll in a restricted access program. When it is used recreationally and not prescribed by a doctor, it becomes classified as a Schedule I drug, making it illegal.
How Does GHB Work?
GHB works by depressing the central nervous system (CNS). It acts at two different receptors in the brain; the GABA receptor and certain GHB receptors. (The drug is a natural substance found in the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain, but in much lower concentrations than when it is abused synthetically.) According to drugs.com, about 95% of the drug is metabolized in the liver, and its half-life ranges between 30 and 60 minutes. Since it is commonly combined with alcohol and other drugs, this combination can affect the brain even more than it would alone.
What are the Effects of GHB?
Since the most frequent use for GHB is as a “date rape drug,” the effects of the drug are extremely dangerous. The most common adverse effects include loss of consciousness, hallucinations, and being placed into a coma, but it can also include vomiting, sweating, confusion, exhaustion, and sluggishness. Extreme sedation, seizures, seizure-related disorders may also occur. The drug’s detrimental effects on the body make consumers of it susceptible to sexual assault. Use of the drug in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs can result in slowed breathing and respiratory depression, requiring serious medical help. “Positive” effects of GHB include tranquility, euphoria, and an increased sex drive.
If used repeatedly, it can become addictive. When an individual becomes addicted to a substance, they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they do not have the drug. These withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, tremors, sweating, or anxiety. These symptoms may become more severe depending on the amount of time using the drug and whether the individual quit cold turkey versus weening off.
Treatment for GHB Addiction
There is not a lot of information available on treatment for GHB addiction specifically, but there are many treatment options available for drug addiction in general:
Hospitalization: Hospitalization after GHB consumption is common due to its debilitating effects. Individuals may be admitted to the hospital most commonly ranging anywhere from 7 to 14 days, but the duration can be longer or shorter depending on the individual and their situation.
Medications to ease withdrawal: Medical supervision is recommended when trying to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. Some physicians may prescribe medications such as benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants to ease the detoxification process.
Outpatient treatment: There are treatment options available that do not require being admitted to a treatment facility or a hospital. Group therapy, family and individual counseling, yoga and mindfulness sessions, healthy living classes, and other holistic approaches to recovery can aid in the GHB treatment process.
Inpatient treatment: Treatment facilities can be beneficial when trying to remove yourself from your typical environment. By doing this, it is easier to avoid distractions and learn healthier ways of living. When looking for a treatment facility, look for one that has a holistic approach to recovery; one that puts great emphasis on the mind, body, and spirit working together to achieve long-term sobriety.
How Can You Protect Yourself from GHB Addiction
Since GHB and other date rape drugs are becoming increasingly common, it is important to watch out for yourself. When at parties or clubs, never set your drink down and pick it back up. Somebody may sneak the drug into your drink without your knowledge. Look out for your friends so that they do not become victims of the drug. Be aware of your surroundings when at bars or other social venues where the GHB drug can be present. Call A Forever Recovery today for more information.