What is GHB?
Effects of GHB?
What is GHB?
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a depressant drug that slows down the messages travelling between the brain and body.
GHB usually comes as a colourless, odourless, bitter or salty liquid, which is usually sold in small bottles or vials. It can also come as a bright blue liquid known as ‘blue nitro’, and less commonly as a crystal powder.
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How is it used?
GHB is usually swallowed, but sometimes it’s injected.
Effects of GHB
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
GHB affects everyone differently, based on:
- Size, weight and health
- Whether the person is used to taking it
- Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
- The amount taken
- The strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)
The following effects may begin within 15 to 20 minutes and last for around 3 to 4 hours:
- Feelings of euphoria
- Increased sex drive
- Lowered inhibitions
- Memory lapses
- Dizziness or headache
- Lowered temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
- Urinary incontinence
It’s very easy to take too much GHB because there isn’t much difference between the amount needed to get high and the amount that causes an overdose.
Symptoms of a GHB overdose include:
- Irregular or shallow breathing
- Confusion, irritation and agitation
- Blackouts and memory loss
- Unconsciousness that can last for 3 to 4 hours
Little is known about the long-term effects of GHB use. However, it is known that regular use can lead to tolerance and dependence, which means larger amount of GHB are needed to get the same effect.
Using GHB with other drugs
- GHB + alcohol or benzodiazepines: chance of overdose is greatly increased.
- GHB + amphetamines or ecstasy: enormous strain on the body as it tries to deal with the competing effects.
Using GHB to help with the symptoms of the ‘comedown’ after using stimulants can lead to a cycle of dependence on both drugs.
Giving up GHB after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms usually start about 12 hours after the last dose and can continue for about 15 days.
These symptoms can include:
- Confusion and agitation
- Anxiety and panic
- Feelings of doom and paranoia
- Restless sleep
- Muscle cramps and tremors
- Fast heart beat
Sudden withdrawal from high doses can result in bowel and bladder incontinence and blackouts.
Reducing the risks
ADF SEARCH – Find further credible research and information on GHB.
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Last updated: 24 January 2013