γ-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), also known as 4-hydroxybutanoic acid, is a naturally occurring substance found in the human central nervous system, as well as in wine, beef, small citrus fruits, and almost all animals in small amounts. It is also categorized as an illegal drug and is currently regulated in the US. GHB as the sodium salt, known as sodium oxybate (INN) or by the trade name Xyrem is used to treat cataplexy and excessive daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy.
Street Names – G, Gamma-OH, Liquid E, Fantasy, Georgia Home Boy, Liquid X, Liquid Ecstasy (it is not ecstasy), Scoop, Water, Liquid E, GBH, Soap, Easy Lay, Salty Water
Effects – GHB is a central nervous system depressant used as an intoxicant. Its effects have been described anecdotally as comparable with alcohol and ecstasy use, such as euphoria, disinhibition, enhanced sensuality and empathogenic states. At higher doses, GHB may induce nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, agitation, visual disturbances, depressed breathing, amnesia,unconsciousness, and death. The effects of GHB can last from 1.5 to 3 hours, or even longer if large doses have been consumed.
Long-term use – 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. Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body adapts to GHB and gets used to functioning with the GHB present. People who are physically dependent on GHB usually develop tolerance to the drug, making it necessary to take more and more GHB to get the same effect.
Withdrawal Symptoms – Although there have been reported fatalities due to GHB withdrawal, reports are inconclusive and further research is needed. Addiction occurs when repeated drug use disrupts the normal balance of brain circuits that control rewards, memory and cognition, ultimately leading to compulsive drug taking
Statistics – GHB is also very widely, voluntarily abused by individuals from 12 to 77. It is common in the high school and college party scene and in the gym crowd (including high school or college athletes and cheerleaders) and the pricey nightclub scene. It may also be taken innocently by individuals who were told that GHB is a “safe” sleep aid or a diet aid that will allow you to get “high” without the calories and hangover of alcohol or develop lean muscle mass.
One report has suggested that sodium oxybate overdose may be fatal, based on deaths of three patients who had been prescribed the drug. However, for two of the three cases, post-mortem GHB concentrations were 141 and 110 mg/L, which is within the expected range of concentrations for GHB after death, and the third case was a patient with a history of intentional drug overdose.