GHB, or Gamma-Hydroxy Butyric Acid is an intoxicating chemical with medical, recreational, and potentially entheogenic uses. It is a normal component of mammalian metabolism. It is naturally found in every cell in the human body and is most properly considered a nutrient. It is believed to be a neurotransmitter, although it is still unknown as to whether it exhibits all of the properties required to be considered one.
GHB was first synthesized about thirty years ago by Dr. H. Laborit. He was a French researcher interested in exploring the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. Over the years many researchers have studied GHB’s effects. In Europe it is used as a general anesthetic, a treatment for insomnia and narcolepsy, an aid to childbirth, a treatment for alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal syndrome and many other things. During the 1980’s it was available over the counter for its ability to stimulate growth hormone release which aids in fat reduction and muscle building. Now it is very popular as a recreational drug due to its pleasant alcohol-like hangover- free high and strong sexual effects. Some street terms include Liquid X, Liquid Ecstacy, Georgia Home Boy, Grievous Bodily Harm, and Scoop. GHB is not approved in the US and has been banned from over-the-counter sale by the FDA (1990). GHB has not yet been scheduled as a controlled substance by the DEA, and therefore simple possession is not illegal. GHB continues to be sold to legitimate laboratories and scientists for research purposes but selling it specifically for human consumption, especially while making claims about its health benefits, is a violation of current FDA regulations and policy. In some European countries, GHB is an approved drug available by prescription. The Federal control may have been an act to protect the pharmaceutical industry from competition from a safer, more effective and less expensive alternative to sleeping pills.
There are many side effects and concerns associated with this drug. GHB affects the release of dopamine in the brain, usually causing effects ranging from relaxation to sleep at low doses. Overall the effect is similar to that of alcohol. The difference is that duration is slightly longer and the hangover effects are slightly less and the unpleasant and dangerous overdose effect of possibly causing temporarily unrousable sleep, or coma, at high doses. The effects of GHB are heavily affected by one’s body weight, interactions with other chemicals, and individual reaction. Some people find GHB useful for treating insomnia, others use it to treat alcoholism. Some use it as a replacement for alcohol. The effects can be broken down by the dose amount.
Low Dose: .5 to 1.5g
This often causes effects similar to those of 1-3 drinks of alcohol. At this dosage, the user can fell a mild relaxation, increased sociability, slightly decreased motor skills, mild dizziness, and other effects similar to mild alcohol intoxication.
Medium Dose: 1-2.5g
This increases the relaxing effects and the physical disequilibrium experienced. Some report increased appreciation for music, dancing , or talking. Many report positive mood changes. There is some slurring of speech, silliness, and slight incoherency . Some report increased feelings of nausea and grogginess. There are some reports of pro-sexual effects, an increase in tactile sensitivity, relaxation, increased male erectile capacity and heightened experience of orgasm, although some women report that this is harder to achieve.
Heavy Dose: 2.5g +
A heavy dose can increase feelings of disequilibrium in many people to the point of feeling very ill. (One reason the GHB has gained notoriety as a Club Drug is that some people experience extremely positive feelings on Heavy Doses of GHB.) Reports of euphoria, feeling music deeply, joyous dancing, and other very positive effects are common. An extra quarter gram can be the difference between euphoria and vomiting.
Overdose: can be little as 2g
One major problem with GHB as an underground recreational substance is that it has a sharp dose-response curve, which can be difficult to manage with the various non- standard preparations available to the uninformed buyer. Another major problem is that uninformed users often mix alcohol with GHB, which drastically increases the chance of vomiting and unconsciousness.
While many overdoses consist mainly of heavy sleep, some are life-threatening . GHB Poisonings are characterized by very low breathing, convulsions, vomiting, being completely non responsive even to ‘deep pain’, fixed pupils, etc.
Some people feel drowsy , sleepy, or groggy after the effects wear off. The hangover from low and medium doses of GHB is usually mild or non existent. Some people do report feeling slightly ‘fuzzy-headed’ the next day. Some also report feeling refreshed, happier, and more alert the day after use. Using GHB more than once a week can cause significantly increased negative after effects .
These are the feelings that the user may experience but it is also important to understand what GHB is doing inside the body.
GHB temporarily inhibits the release of dopamine in the brain. This may cause increased dopamine storage and later increased dopamine release when the GHB influence wears off. This effect could be the reason why users that awake in the middle of the night is more common with use of higher GHB doses, and the general feelings of increased well-being, alertness and arousal the next day. GHB also stimulates pituitary growth hormone release. It also induces “remarkable hypotonia” or muscle relaxation. It is gaining popularity in France and Italy as an aid to childbirth. It causes a “spectacular action on the dilation of the cervix,” decreased anxiety, greater intensity and frequency of uterine contractions, increased sensitivity to oxytocic drus, preservation of reflexes, a lack of respiratory depression in the fetus, and protection against fetal cardiac anoxia. GHB also causes a protein sparing effect which reduces the rate at which proteins in the body are broken down, which along with the growth hormone, underlies its common use as an aid to muscle-building and fat loss.
Anesthetic doses of GHB are accompanied by a small increase in blood sugar levels, and a significant decrease in cholesterol. Respiration becomes slower and deeper. GHB has been called an almost ideal sleep inducing substance. Small doses produce relaxation, tranquility and drowsiness which make it extremely easy to fall asleep naturally. The primary disadvantage to GHB’s use as a sleep aid is it’s short term influence, which is about three hours. GHB shows great promise in the treatment of alcoholism. In Europe, one of its primary uses is to relieve withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and anxiety among alcoholics.
There are four main prosexual properties :
2) heightening of the sense of touch,
3) enhancement of male erectile capacity
4) increased intensity of orgasm
All four together heighten the purpose of using this drug as a ‘date-rape’ drug.
GHB is available as an odorless, colorless, and nearly tasteless liquid. Sometimes it is available as a powder, or in a capsule.
GHB is obviously a very powerful, dangerous, and addictive drug. When not taken with care it can result in severe brain damage, coma, even death. It is not currently illegal to have possession of the drug, however , it is illegal to sell, buy, or make it. There are different dosages depending on weight and body of the individual. Its street terms include Georgia Home Boy, Liquid X, Liquid Ecstacy, Grievous Bodily Harm, and Scoop. It is often used as a date-rape drug due to its ability to cause relaxation, decreased motor skills, a short euphoric period, grogginess, slight incoherence, and physical disequilibrium. With very heavy use, many people report very serious physical addiction. Stopping suddenly results in anxiety, inability to sleep, feeling like the heart is arrhythmic, and often very unpleasant and potentially dangerous effects. Many heavy users have reported being able to taper off their use to zero by reducing their intake slowly over 2-3 weeks. Best advice? Don’t try this at home kids.