Information on Illicit Drugs
GHB, also known by the chemical name Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid, is a drug that suppresses the central nervous system. GHB is primarily found in the party, night club, and rave scenes and is mostly used by teens and young adults. The drug temporarily produces intense euphoria, increased sex drive, and elevated energy levels, which explains its popularity with the aforementioned groups. GHB is frequently combined with alcohol for additional effects.
What Are the Consequences of Using GHB?
The most immediate effects of using GHB are reduced inhibition and impaired judgment. Both of these effects can lead to a greater likelihood of engaging in risky or illegal behaviors such as promiscuous or unprotected sex, impaired driving, violent behavior and public lewdness. These effects may be increased if GHB is used alongside alcohol or other drugs.
While the lethal dose for GHB alone is quite high, this threshold is much lower when alcohol is involved because GHB inhibits the body’s ability to process and excrete alcohol. However, even without Combining GHB with other substances, the drug can cause extreme sedation, life-threatening depression of the respiratory system, seizures, and coma.
Signs and Symptoms of GHB Abuse
The main desirable effects of GHB wear off quickly, but there are potential side effects, and the negative after-effects tend to linger. These can include tremors, anxiety, impaired peripheral vision, breathing problems, agitation and irritability, seizures, mood swings, sleepiness, appetite suppression, unexplained weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Effects of GHB Abuse
GHB has a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially when it’s frequently used. If the drug is habitually taken alongside alcohol or other substances, the likelihood of experiencing life-threatening effects increases considerably. This is particularly true if the user requires continually larger doses of one or more of the substances to achieve the same effects, which is typical with any abused drug.
Consistent abuse of GHB, either alone or with other substances, can produce effects such as lethargy, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, coma, and death. Furthermore, GHB is highly neurotoxic, which can have far-reaching effects on motor function, cognition, and mood when used heavily or for long periods.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of GHB?
As with any other substance, ceasing use of GHB will cause withdrawal symptoms to appear. The symptoms are very similar to those seen in alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal. However, unlike these substances, GHB withdrawal can occur in as little as one hour after use.
The main effects can last anywhere between three days and three weeks, but mood effects may linger for months. GHB withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Intense anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Excessive sweating
The withdrawal from GHB can be extreme enough to be debilitating, and if the drug was frequently used for prolonged periods, it could be fatal. In moderate to severe cases of GHB withdrawal, patients usually require hospitalization to manage their symptoms and monitor their safety. The delirium is often treated using benzodiazepines, although much larger quantities are needed than with alcohol withdrawal-induced delirium.