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Liquid Ecstasy (GHB/GBL)

SCIENTIFIC TERM:

Gammahydroxybutrate

STREET NAMES:

GHB, GBH, Liquid Ecstasy, GBL

EFFECTS:

A small cap full has a euphoric effect that makes users feel happy, sensual and uninhibited.  As more is taken, it acts more like a sedative or downer and makes people sleepy.

DRUG FORM AND METHOD OF USE:

GHB is usually sold as an odourless liquid in small bottles or capsules (it does come in powder form but is rarer). It tastes slightly salty. A teaspoon or a capful is a normal dose although the strength of GHB varies so it can be very difficult for people to know how much they’re taking.  The effects start between 10 minutes to one hour and can last up to seven hours or so.

HEALTH RISKS (long term) which includes withdrawal & tolerance:

Too much and users feel disoriented and sick. Muscles can go numb or start to spasm (which can cause slight twitches or pulses).  Its use can be fatal when mixed with alcohol or other drugs.  Users can lose consciousness, as it''s hard to know what strength the dose is.   Because GHB can really knock you out it''s been linked to drug assisted sexual assault. And because it''s almost tasteless it''s easily slipped into a drink.  There’s limited evidence on this but there does appear to be some liability of GHB to cause withdrawal symptoms on stopping its regular use.  There may be some tendency to keep using in some cases even in spite of potential harm (psychological dependence) but this is not well established.

LAW:

GHB is a Class C drug - illegal to have, give away or sell. Possession can get you up to two years in jail and/or an unlimited fine. Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you up to 14 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.

  1. When synthetically produced, GHB is a hypnotic sedative, either in liquid or solid (powder) state. It is highly soluble, colourless, odourless, and nearly tasteless.
  2. GHB is also found in peripheral blood and readily crosses placental membranes. GHB is known to act as a depressant on the body's central nervous system, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain.
  3. Withdrawal from GHB may be life-threatening and may cause insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating. Treatment for GHB withdrawal is non-specific and may take up to two weeks in an intensive care unit.
  4. GHB was developed in the early 1960s as a human anaesthetic but was discontinued due to unwanted side effects. It is a naturally occurring component of human cells.
  5. GHB is used most commonly in the form of a chemical salt (Na-GHB or K-GHB), which is taken recreationally as a depressant with effects quite similar to those of alcohol. These salts are powders but are most often mixed with water for recreational use.
  6. GHB is most notorious for a few cases in which it has been given to people without their knowledge (in spiked drinks).
  7. It is more commonly used as a recreational intoxicant (like alcohol), a sleep-aid or a supplement for body-building.
  8. With larger doses there is a risk of unpleasant side effects such as feeling and being sick, suffering from numb muscles and disorientation. Some people have had seizures and collapse.
  9. The strength of GHB varies a great deal. It is therefore advisable to take a small amount at first in order to avoid unexpectedly taking more than intended. 
  10. GHB has recently been associated with date rape.
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