NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin - Club Drugs
Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

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Slang or Street Names: Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy

GHB can be produced in clear liquid, white powder, tablet, and capsule forms, and it is often used in combination with alcohol, making it even more hazardous. GHB has been increasingly involved in poisonings, overdoses, drug-facilitated sexual assaults (such as "date rapes"), and fatalities. The drug is used predominantly by adolescents and young adults - often when they attend nightclubs and raves - and is prominent in many gay male communities.

  • GHB is usually abused either for its intoxicating/sedating/euphoria-inducing properties or for its growth hormone-releasing effects.
  • Chemicals that can be converted by the body into GHB include gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4- butanediol (BD), which are found in a number of products that are labeled as cleaning agents and are often sold over the Internet and in retail stores.
  • GHB is a central nervous system depressant and its intoxicating effects begin 10 to 20 minutes after the drug is taken. The effects typically last up to 4 hours, depending on the dosage. At higher doses, GHB's sedative effects may result in sleep, coma, or death.
  • GHB is cleared from the body relatively quickly (in approximately 2 hours). There are no GHB detection tests for use in emergency rooms and many clinicians are unfamiliar with it, so many GHB incidents go undetected.
  • In July 2002, the Food and Drug Administration approved the medically supervised use of GHB for the treatment of cataplexy (episodes in which muscles suddenly go limp) associated with narcolepsy.

*CEWG cities in which GHB abuse has been reported include: Detroit, Phoenix, Honolulu, Miami, New York, Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, New Orleans, Newark, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Boston, and Denver.