Thursday, August 16, 2007

GHB (gammahydroxybutyrate): Brief History, Law

What is GHB

GHB, which stands for gammahydroxybutyrate, is an anaesthetic used to sedate patients before an operation. It's the drug that was implicated in the death of actor River Phoenix, and has, more recently, become popular in clubs, particularly on the gay scene. Like rohypnol, GHB is sometimes used to spike drinks.

Is it a sex drug?
It's claimed that GHB heightens sex drive, but this hasn't been proven. However, because of GHB's potential to lower inhibitions, users may become more sexually confident. In this event, everyone should make sure they're fully prepared to practise SAFE SEX.

The GHB effect

The effect takes between 10 minutes and an hour to come on, depending on the amount that's taken, the concentration and the person's body weight.

  • A small dose of GHB has a similar effect to alcohol. It lowers inhibitions and makes people more sociable, and even has a similar euphoric feeling to ecstasy.
  • If the dose is high, the euphoria gives way to powerful sedative effects, making people feel tired and "doped out".

The Law
GHB isn't controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act in the UK so it's not illegal to have it. However, because it's classed as a medicine, it's illegal to sell it or give it away without proper authorization.

Unknown quantity

This is very dangerous stuff because the concentration of the liquid varies from bottle to bottle. A bottle could contain 3 g, relatively little, or it could contain 20 g, a huge amount. It's virtually impossible to gauge the strength of the liquid so it's easy to overdose. The long-term effects of GHB aren't really known. NEVER top up.

The dangers will be increased if GHB is taken with other drugs, particularly depressants such as tranquillizers or alcohol.

Know the street names
If you swallow Liquid Gold (poppers) when you want Liquid X (GHB) you could end up in hospital. Be careful. Know what you're taking.


  • GHB is usually sold in bottles that contain about 40 ml of liquid.
  • It may appear as a powder, tablet or capsule.
  • It's swallowed and has a slightly salty taste.

Grievous bodily harm

As the dosage is increased you may begin to suffer the nastier side of GHB - that's why it has the street name GBH. It's likely that you'll:

  • feel sick and start to vomit
  • get stiff and painful muscles
  • feel disorientated
  • have fits (convulsions)
  • stop breathing and go into a coma.

If something goes wrong

Ease your friend's fall if you can. Clear a space around her so that she can't hurt herself. Loosen clothing around her neck and put something soft under her head. When the fit stops, put her in the recovery position. Call an ambulance.

  • If your friend is breathing, place him in the recovery position. Call an ambulance. Tell medical staff what your friend has taken - it could save his life. Be prepared to resuscitate your friend if he stops breathing.
  • If your friend vomits while unconscious, check that he's still breathing.
Some users of GHB who went into a coma have made a full recovery, but only because they received medical help quickly.


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