GHB (fantasy)

Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a depressant drug that slows down the activity of the brain and parts of the central nervous system.

GHB commonly comes as a colourless, odourless, bitter or salty-tasting liquid, usually sold in small bottles or vials, such as soy sauce containers. It also comes as a bright blue liquid (sometimes called "blue nitro") and less commonly as a crystal powder. Some people take GHB for its ability to increase relaxation and sociability. Others may take it to help with the symptoms of the "comedown" after using stimulants such as amphetamines and ecstasy.

One of the most dangerous aspects of using GHB is the small difference between an amount that produces the desired effect and the amount that results in overdose. High doses of GHB can result in blackouts and memory lapses, seizures, respiratory problems, coma and death.

How is it used?

GHB is generally swallowed, although a small number of people have been reported as injecting or "shelving" it (inserting into anus).

Effects of GHB

The effects of GHB appear to vary greatly according to the amount used. A small increase in amount can result in a dramatic increase in effect. A further risk is that there is often no way to be sure that the drug is manufactured accurately. Improperly made GHB may result in an extremely toxic mixture of GHB and the chemical sodium hydroxide.

Immediate effects

Generally, the effects of GHB are experienced within fifteen minutes of use, and last for approximately three hours. Effects of a low to moderate dose may include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased libido
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Memory lapses
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleep
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Tremor
  • Decreased body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Urinary incontinence

Overdose

Using GHB carries a high risk of overdose. Not knowing the strength of GHB increases the risk of overdose.

Signs of overdose:

  • Person appears to be asleep but cannot be woken
  • Person is incoherent, sweating profusely, vomiting and has irregular or shallow breathing
  • Person is not able to stand and/or has involuntary muscle contractions

Long term effects

Little research is known about the long term effects of GHB but it is possible to become physically and psychologically dependent on it.

Tolerance and dependence

There is evidence that GHB is highly addictive. People who use GHB regularly can develop a tolerance and dependence very quickly. Dependence on GHB can be psychological, physical or both.

Treatment options

Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of methods. Some of the different options include counselling, group therapy, medication (pharmacotherapy) and supervised/home withdrawal.

Source of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

GHB fact sheet by the DrugInfo Clearinghouse

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention. Below is a link to their information page about GHB detailing its effects, dependence, withdrawal, health risks and treatment options.

http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/ghb

GHB information page by DanceSafe

DanceSafe is a US based nonprofit, harm reduction organisation promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community. DanceSafe's GHB page contains information about health risks.

http://www.dancesafe.org/ghb/

GHB information by Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times. Below is a link to their fact sheet on GHB.

http://au.reachout.com/ghb

It may be difficult to know what to do if you are worried about someone who is using GHB. Helping someone who is not ready to change their behaviour is challenging, particularly when the decision to get help is ultimately theirs.

If you approach the person you are concerned about there are several things you might want to consider before doing so.

Be informed - Gather information about GHB and its effects so you can see the signs that someone has been using. It will also help if the person you are trying assist knows that you understand the effects of the drug and what they might be experiencing.

Discuss GHB use openly - Try and ascertain if the person has a pyhsical addicition to GHB or is using it on a recreational basis. Try not to discuss your concerns whilst the person is affected by the drug or is ‘coming down'.

Let the person you are concerned about know that you are open to listening to them without being judgmental.

Speak to a counsellor yourself first - Sometimes it is sensible to seek help and advice yourself if someone's drug-related behaviour due to a drug problem is impacting on your life.

Reference: Reach Out! website 

DanceSafe

DanceSafe is a US based nonprofit, harm reduction organisation promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community.

http://www.dancesafe.org/

DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation

DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention.

http://druginfo.adf.org.au/

Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.

http://au.reachout.com/

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