GHB or GBL Category: Depressants
(also called: GBH, liquid ecstasy, liquid X, gammahydroxybutyrate)
How it’s used
GHB is a synthetic drug used as an anaesthetic. It comes in a clear liquid or in powder form and has a slightly salty taste. You can usually buy it in small bottles to swallow by the capful. The potency varies so there is no ‘safe dose’. GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) and 1,4-butanediol are sold as substitutes for GHB. You can legally buy these as cleaning solvents and they naturally convert to GHB when you swallow them.
- The effects can begin about 20 minutes after consuming and may last up to four hours.
- Smaller, weaker doses make you relaxed and calm
- If you take stronger doses, you may feel sleepy, dizzy and confused. You may also have nausea, vomiting and muscle spasms
- Can lead to convulsions, loss of consciousness, coma and breathing problems
- May increase muscle growth in body builders
- We don’t know enough about long-term effects
- Risk of overdose
- Even a small overdose can cause unconsciousness as some bottles may have a higher concentration of GHB
- As it is hard to work out what a safe dose is, you risk taking too much and falling into a coma. If you have been drinking or taking other drugs, it is even harder to judge how much to take
- You risk becoming unconscious, especially if you take GHB with alcohol
- GHB has been used in cases of rape and assault cases. Your drink may be spiked and you could be sexually assaulted while unconscious
If you are pregnant
Do not use if you are pregnant as we don’t know enough about the risks to your baby.
You can become physically and psychologically addicted to GHB very quickly, so your body craves it and you find it hard to cope without it. This only happens to a small percentage of people who use it.
If you use it often, withdrawal can be severe and last for several days. Symptoms include sleep problems, vertigo and chest pains.
How long does it stay in your system?
A urine test can only detect GHB for a couple of hours.
What help is available?
- Self-help support such as Narcotics Anonymous
- Counselling or psychotherapy
- Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture
- Your doctor
- Residential treatment programmes (clinics)
- One to one or group family support
- Contact the Drugs Helpline 1800 459 459 to find out about options in your area
For G harm reduction information, find out more at our campaign page.« Back to Types of Drugs page