Gamma hydroxy-butyrate is an illicit recreational drug abused for its potent central nervous system depressant properties. Common street names of GHB include the date rape drug, forget-me pill, La Rocha, circles, lunch monkey, mind eraser, rope, rophies, roaches, easy lay, G, scoop, liquid X, Georgia Home Boy, and rib. The sodium salt of GHB- Xyrem is FDA approved for the treatment of narcolepsy associated cataplexy. Alcover is used for detoxification and withdrawal in alcoholics.
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Its principle role is to reduce neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) is capable of binding to certain GABA-receptors and stimulates GABA-like central nervous system depressant effects and psychomotor impairment.
Methods of GHB Abuse
GHB is used recreationally for its effects of euphoria, increased sex drive, and tranquility effects observed in low doses. GHB is also known to have anabolic effects due to protein synthesis and is used by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts.
GHB is available as a colorless and odorless drug, which may be combined with alcohol and given to victims before a sexual assault. Victims become incapacitated due to the sedative, depressant effects. GHB can also cause amnesia (loss of memory) in the victims.
Much of the GHB available on the street are not FDA approved and are synthesised in unhygienic environments with impure raw material. Therefore, GHB available in the streets may be adulterated with unknown compounds and that can increase its toxicity.
Side Effects And Overdose - Long Term Withdrawal
There is no safe level of drug use. The effects produced by the drug vary from person to person based on the amount taken, the strength of the drug, biology of the user, tolerance, and other drugs are taken with it.
GHB when used with alcohol or benzodiazepines can drastically increase the chances of overdosing
• Tolerance - increased doses are required to achieve the same effect of intoxication • Dependence
GHB when used with amphetamines, ecstasy, or other stimulant drugs can lead to:
Withdrawal symptoms in a regular user start 12 hours after the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms include palpitations, increased heart rate, sweating, muscle cramps, tremors, restlessness, confusion, agitation, anxiety, and paranoia.
Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is classified as an illegal drug. GHB is a Class C drug in the UK which means it is illegal to use, give away or sell GHB. Possession can get you up to 2 years in prison. Supplying can get you up to 14 years in prison.
Management of GHB Abuse
If you are a user or know someone who is a user it is important to seek medical help if the condition seems to worsen.
Long term users may experience withdrawal symptoms upon detoxification and close medical supervision and medical care is required for these patients in a hospital or rehabilitation setting for 7-14 days.
Severe withdrawal symptoms may be experienced and users may attempt to self detoxify with benzodiazepines or alcohol, but this may worsen the condition leading to respiratory depression and death.
Your health professional may prescribe benzodiazepines, antihypertensives, or anticonvulsants during management. These should not be taken without proper medical supervision.
Apart from these, it is important to adopt lifestyle changes to avoid social settings that promote illicit drugs of abuse
GOV.UK. 2020. Drugs Penalties. [online] Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/penalties-drug- possession-dealing> [Accessed 19 October 2020].
Adf.org.au. 2020. GHB - Alcohol And Drug Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://adf.org.au/ drug-facts/ghb/> [Accessed 19 October 2020].
GHB Drug: Effects, Hazards & Methods of Abuse - Drugs.com. (2020). Retrieved 19 October 2020, from https://www.drugs.com/illicit/ghb.html