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GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate)

Street names: G, liquid ecstasy, liquid x, grievous bodily harm, fantasy, quaalude, salty water, scoop, soap, easy lay, vita-G, and georgia home boy

GHB is a central nervous system depressant, (CNS), which may be referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers because they slow brain activity.

GHB occurs naturally in the human body and almost all animals in a small amount, as well as wine, beer, and small citrus fruits. The drug is a Schedule 1 controlled substance in Canada, making it illegal to produce, possess, provide, sell or traffic.

When combined with alcohol, GHB has been used as a date-rape drug. It is very difficult to detect in urine after 8-12 hours, but can be detected in hair samples months after being ingested.

How it is used

GHB may be sold as a white powder, tablet, capsule or clear liquid.

The powder can be snorted or injected. The liquid form of the drug looks like water and is mostly tasteless or slightly salty, and colourless, so it can easily be slipped into a drink undetected. When combined with alcohol GHB is a powerful sedative that may prevent someone from stopping a sexual assault.

Quick facts:

  • While it has been known to create an effect similar to ecstasy and is often call liquid ecstasy or liquid x, GHB has a completely different chemical make-up from MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy.
  • It is not uncommon for a sexual assault victim to have little or no memory of the event when GHB and alcohol have been used, as GHB combined with alcohol may render the person unconscious. Hair testing can be an essential tool in these situations.
  • There is a serious risk of coma and even death when GHB is combined with alcohol or other drugs.
  • Driving under the influence of GHB is very dangerous, as sleep may come on quickly.
  • GHB can be created in the home with little or no knowledge of chemistry.
  • Some athletes use GHB, which has been shown to increase human growth hormone in vivo, possibly doubling growth hormone secretion in normal young males.
  • A prescription form of GHB may be used to treat narcolepsy.

Recognizing GHB

The liquid form of the drug looks like water and is often sold in small vials. It may also be sold as a white powder, capsule or tablet. Multiple doses of the liquid form of the drug may be sold in larger bottles of water, sports drinks or energy drinks.

Effects of GHB

It typically takes 10-20 minutes for the effects of GHB to be felt and the experience can last for up to four hours, depending on the dosage taken.

People who use small doses of GHB without alcohol may experience a feeling of euphoria and energy. The drug may create a feeling of social connection and increase sexual arousal. Negative effects can include a loss of coordination, consciousness, slowed breathing, blood pressure or heart rate, memory loss or a lowered body temperature.

When taken in larger doses or combined with alcohol or other drugs, GHB can be extremely dangerous and could lead to repertory arrest and death. GHB purchased on the street contains unknown levels of the drug, which makes it is difficult to know how much GHB is being taken or what other drugs might also be included.

Since the levels of GHB needed to create a euphoric effect are close to the amount that can cause an overdose, it is easy to take too much of the drug, which can result in slowed breathing, seizures, coma, and possibly death.

The onset of a GHB overdose can occur quickly. Symptoms of an overdose include:

  • drowsiness, sleep or loss of consciousness,
  • nausea or vomiting,
  • headache,
  • loss of reflexes,
  • impaired breathing and/or respiratory depression,
  • slowed heart rate,
  • seizures,
  • hypothermia,
  • coma, and
  • blocked airway resulting from the loss of the gag reflex.

GHB can be psychologically and physically addictive. Withdrawal symptoms from GHB can be severe, possibly resulting in death, so someone dependent on GHB should seek medical help to assist with withdrawal.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

·         Anxiety,

·         Confusion and/or delirium,

·         Hallucinations and/or paranoia,

·         Difficulty sleeping,

·         Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

·         High blood pressure and a rapid heart rhythm

·         Tremors and muscle cramps, and

·         Sweating

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