GHB Addiction and Rehabilitation

GHB Addiction Rehab Header
Last Edited: March 17, 2020
Patricia Howard, LMFT, CADC
Clinically Reviewed
Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

Dangers of GHB Abuse

GHB, or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate, is a central nervous system depressant with effects like those of barbiturates. Xyrem, a prescription drug use to treat narcolepsy, is a brand name for GHB. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes loss of control of sleep-wake cycles. Though Xyrem is a legitimate pharmaceutical, it is rarely used and highly controlled due to its great potential for misuse.

GHB is found in white-powdered form and is both colorless and odorless once dissolved in a liquid. It is most frequently taken orally and in liquid form. The drug is most commonly abused by younger crowds in combination with Alcohol to magnify its effects.

GHB abuse goes hand in hand with some serious consequences and challenges. It is a sedative that can put the user in a state of drunkenness or slow down his or her system losing consciousness or slipping into a comatose state. This effect has become so well known that GHB is also considered a date rape drug. It’s tendency to cause difficulty recalling memories and its difficulty with detection make it a popular choice for assault.

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Street Names for GHB

GHB is most commonly obtained illegally and from sources originating in clandestine labs. GHB has many street names, some of which may be regionally specific. Some common street names are: Liquid Ecstasy/ Liquid X, Georgia Home Boy, G, Goop, Soap, Scoop, Gamma-OH, Grievous Bodily Harm, Fantasy, Liquid G.

GHB Effects

GHB is a Central Nervous System depressant and mood and mind-altering substance. It is compared loosely to Alcohol and Ecstasy in terms of effect. It produces increased feelings of sedation, lack of inhibition, euphoria, and changes in libido. GHB works by affects the GABA neurotransmitters in the brain. These are associated with anxiety levels and other drugs that affect this regime include Benzodiazepines, Ecstasy and Alcohol. Combing GHB with another substance can prove catastrophic. Alcohol is commonly used in combination with GHB, causing an increase in the effects of both. However, this combination can quickly turn fatal as both suppress the Central Nervous System. Life-threatening symptoms of GHB include unresponsiveness and coma.

Warning Signs of GHB Abuse in a Loved One

Determining whether a loved one is abusing GHB can be difficult. In the case of a drug like GHB, you may not know what drug your loved one is abusing. GHB is rarely solely abused and most often is used in conjunction with other mood and mind-altering substances such as Alcohol, Marijuana, and other Club Drugs. What can be determined is that your friend or family member is not acting like him or herself. Your loved one may be in complete denial.

Financial problems are a common warning sign. Drugs and Alcohol are expensive and the more one uses the more is needed. This can add up quickly, depleting savings and putting the individual in immense financial debt that can take years to get out of.

Hiding aspects of use is another common sign of substance abuse. Lying and hiding what, how much, and how often is being used is a sign that there’s a problem. The reason for the lies is that the individual feels ashamed and defensive about what he or she is doing.

Mental and physical health deterioration is another sign of substance abuse. The stress that drugs like GHB put on the mind and body causes health problems and mental upheaval. Irritability, aggression and other emotional disturbances are common with substance abuse.

Factual Dangers: GHB

GHB is a dangerous and addictive drug. Use of this drug can quickly turn a party into a deadly situation. GHB is popular among younger crowds and is a Club Drug that’s used in sexual assaults. If you suspect a loved one has been using GHB, or has become addicted, consider staging an intervention. GHB abuse is extremely dangerous and causes significant health problems. Help save the life of your loved one and reach out to him or her today.

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This substance has been used by the bodybuilding community since its discovery in 1960.

Only 72 deaths related or directly caused by GHB have been reported since the DEA started tracking the drug in 1990.

To disclose our status to our sexual and intimate partners is an action expected of each consenting adult, and it helps protect our community and promote good health.

True Stories of Addiction:

Justin’s life took a turn for the worst when he tried GHB. Listen to his story to figure out how he recovered. – View all episodes now

GHB Rehab Treatment

GHB has such great potential to cause harm that anyone abusing the substance should consider professional addiction treatment. The addictive properties of GHB can result in devastation and trauma. Many people who abuse substances such as GHB do not see the harm in his or her actions. The drug use is typically a result of another underlying condition which must be identified and treated if the person is to get better. Addiction is a mental disorder and not simply poor decision making.

Addiction rehab treatment centers specialize in providing the kind of help and support necessary for people to live long, happy lives. Rehab programs provide a variety of therapeutic options to ensure each client is exposed to all treatments. Individual therapy, group therapy, and educational seminars all work to heal the individual. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT, helps the person understand what fueled his or her using. The therapist and individual work to reverse the negative thought pattern and self-defeating core beliefs that lead to using.

The use of GHB suggests that a significant problem with addictive substances exists. Inpatient rehab is recommended to provide the intense therapy and around the clock support for anyone using or addicted to GHB. With love and support, your loved one will overcome this addiction and find a better way to live. – Learn More

GHB Detox Treatment

The first and most dangerous stage of recovery is detox. Many inpatient treatment centers have a detox level of care where those experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms are provided around the clock care. People who try to detox alone or without proper medical supervision are taking extraordinary risk. Anyone starting withdrawal from GHB is strongly encouraged to enter into a medical detox facility. The medical professionals in a detox center are able to handle any emergencies that may arise during the detox process. GHB does not currently have an antidote, however, through a variety of healing methods the symptoms of withdrawal can be managed.

Medically managed detox means that symptoms will be managed with cutting edge medical technology.  Withdrawal from GHB many cause such symptoms as insomnia, anxiety, psychotic thoughts, and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. These are not symptoms to try to manage at home. They can quickly turn fatal, not to mention extremely unpleasant.

Medications may be prescribed by the medical professional to ensure that the person remains as safe and comfortable as possible. Without help, many people fall back to using as the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming. The medical experts will manage symptoms and provide the peace of mind that everyone should have during the critical detox process. – Learn More

Addicted to GHB

GHB as a Club Drug typically is taken seldom enough to prevent addiction. However, the belief that GHB can increase athletic performance provides the perfect circumstances for an individual to become addicted. The addictive substance GHB has physical, mental and emotional elements. Whatever the reason for the repeated use of GHB, there are significant health consequences involved.

Addiction is a mental illness characterized by compulsive drug seeking, drug using, and continued use despite consequences which would normally make an individual reevaluate the situation. Many people stuck in the haze of addiction cannot see out of the using cycle. The desperate need for more overrides all other needs. Drugs like GHB have a way of placing themselves at the top of the hierarchy of needs, even above survival.

GHB puts an enormous amount of stress on the body. Frequent use of the drug can cause disorientation, confusion, nausea, tunnel vision, coma and hallucinations. These can mean life-threatening health complications and other forms of trauma. Addiction is a horrifying, chronic, relapsing disease that can be treated. May people with an addiction disorder do not get help until the disease has devastated their life. Anyone at any staging of using and addiction can get help and prevent further suffering. Reach out and get help today. – Learn More

GHB Dependency

GHB can also cause dependence. Drug dependence is like addiction in many ways. The person still compulsively seeks and uses a substance like GHB. When addicted the person is chasing a high, or feeling of euphoria. Once he or she becomes dependent, however that euphoric feeling is no longer achievable. A person dependent on GHB needs the drug just to feel normal. The high is no longer something that the person can achieve because of tolerance and depletion of chemicals in the brain and body. Without the drug, the person likely experiences extreme symptoms similar to withdrawal.

GHB is needed for a dependent person to be functional at all. As part of addiction, dependence simply marks a more progressed stage of the disease. Dependence on GHB severely threatens the life of the individual. Repeated use causes serious health risks, as well as general risk to the individual’s wellbeing. A known sedative, GHB easily renders people unconscious. If the individual mixes GHB with any other drugs, especially other sedatives such as Alcohol, the results are quickly fatal.

Dependence and addiction are on the same spectrum of substance abuse problems. If you or a loved one struggles with GHB dependence, get help immediately. This drug is physically hazardous and mentally ruinous. The sooner you reach out the quicker you will recover, thus discovering the better life that you deserve. Learn More

Seeking help for a loved one.

  • Who Do I Include in a GHB Intervention?
    It is best to include an intervention specialist and those closest the GHB addicted individual. It is best to leave out anyone who may not be able to control their anger.
  • What Do I Say in A GHB Intervention?
    You will speak directly to your loved one, only speaking in love and concern while leaving out judgment or anger. Let him or her know the negative impact their GHB addiction causes you.

Intervention for GHB Abuse

GHB addiction, like all other drug addiction, comes with skewed perceptions. The person using likely feels that the drug is necessary or that his or her behavior is not negatively affecting anyone. This strong sense of denial is partially how the person justified using. Often, the concerns and voices of people the individual loves and trusts are required to help him or her understand that the drug abuse must stop and treatment must be sought.

If you think that your loved one is abusing GHB, an intervention may be necessary. An intervention is a conversation between the person using and concerned friends and family members. It functions as a communication tool and a way to get the attention of the person using. It is pertinent throughout the intervention that your loved one feels loved and supported, not attacked or belittled.

Talking to a professional intervention specialist can help set a course of action from opening the conversation with your loved one to helping guide him or her toward treatment. Interventionist specialize in making sure that your message comes across with all the intended love that your loved one needs to feel comfortable to accept help. A professional also helps keep the conversation on track and supportive. These can be stressful and upsetting conversations, which easily derail. If you have any questions about an intervention or concern involving a loved one, reach out to a professional interventionist or addiction specialist today. Speak out before it is too late. – Learn More

Recovery from GHB Abuse

People who have become addicted to GHB and other drugs commonly feel hopeless. They tend to experience mood swings, major depression symptoms, and generally see no future with or without mood and mind-altering substances. Addiction is one of the most harrowing illnesses that a person can develop. Its existence is not the fault of anyone and is not weakness or failure. This disease causes more deaths in the United States than any other form of accidental death.

No matter how devastated your life is by addiction and substance abuse, there is hope. GHB addiction shares many things in common with other drugs of abuse. It tends to steal our opportunities, health, happiness and faith in ourselves and others. For all the ills caused by a substance abuse disorder, there is a way to heal.12-step programs have the oldest and best established recorded for successfully treating those with addiction issues. The 12-steps are simply guides to live by, providing an outline for how to live a healthier, happier life.

All newcomers are encouraged to get a sponsor and attend regular meetings. A sponsor is a sober member of the program and who has progressed further than yourself. This person should be in good standing in the community, however all these points are mere suggestions. Attend a meeting a day for the first several months and if you miss a meeting one day, attend two the following day. This will keep you engaged and close to the sober community, which is crucial during the early days of one’s sobriety.

  • How Do I Recover from GHB Addiction?
    The first step in recovery from your GHB addiction is admitting you have a problem. Once you have done that, reach out for help and seek detoxification and treatment center.
  • Will I Ever Relapse on GHB?
    GHB relapse is always possible. As long as you learn from it and move on in a positive direction you should be fine and able to have a strong and lasting recovery in the future.

Dangers of GHB Overdose

GHB is powerful sedative and hypnotic – use of it can be disastrous. GHB easily causes overdose for many reasons. One obvious one is that the drug is illegally produced and the dosage you get is unknown. This may be one of the more common causes of overdose. There is no way of controlling or knowing what you are getting.

An overdose of GHB is fatal. An overdose occurs when too much of a substance is ingested for the system to handle. It is possible to overdose on anything, water included. It requires little GHB to cause an overdose and there is a near indiscriminate line between effect and overdose. GHB will overwhelm the system of a user easily by itself. Mixing GHB with any other substance is especially fatal. Alcohol can be one of the most hazardous substances when combined with GHB. Both substances are Central Nervous System depressants, combining them causes potentially fatal suppression of critical systems.

People who use GHB for performance enhancement are also at  risk for overdose. The reason for use or route of ingestion does not protect against overdose and death. Symptoms of overdose can vary between individuals. Some common symptoms of overdose include dizziness, sedation, trouble breathing, vomiting, sweating, unconsciousness, feeling of being in a dream, and coma. If you or someone close to you has overdosed on GHB, it is of vital importance that you get to an emergency room as quickly as possible. GHB is claiming an increasing number of lives in the United States and elsewhere. Don’t become another statistic. – Learn More

GHB Use, Abuse and Dependency

GHB doesn’t get the recognition at clubs and parties like other drugs commonly abused in the same situations. Ecstasy, LSD and others bring a wealth of images to mind when their names are mentioned. But GHB usually is followed by the question, “what’s that again?” The answer seems full of contradictions.

GHB was first synthesized in 1874, however, it was not until the 1960s that its effects on people began to be researched. Its unusual nature showed promise in a number of different areas of medicine. It was used in Europe as a sleep aid and anesthetic during childbirth.

The major problem with the drug seemed at first to only surround the difficulty finding a therapeutic dose as the range is particularly small. GHB also could not be combined with Alcohol or any other central nervous system depressant, including benzodiazepines, Opioids and others.

Over the years, GHB was determined to have high potential for abuse and significant addictive properties. Since around the turn of the century, GHB has been outlawed in much of Europe and highly regulated if still medically used.

GHB, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, is a central nervous system depressant that occurs naturally in the body. GHB is the precursor of glutamate, glycine, GABA, the neurotransmitter associated with anxiety. GHB naturally forms in some substances such as red wine. However, the drug GHB has a dosage that is drastically higher than anything that occurs naturally.

In small doses, the drug’s effect is similar to a stimulant. In higher doses, it renders a person unconscious with the additional effect of impairing memory.

GHB is legally used in the United States for the treatment of cataplexy and narcolepsy, and more rarely for alcoholism and fibromyalgia. As GHB is highly addictive, it seems a poor choice for treatment of alcoholism. It is rarely used for any of these conditions, however, due to this substance’s addictive nature and need to be tightly controlled.

Classified as a Schedule I substance, which suggests that GHB has the highest classification for potential of abuse of known substances. Its classification comes after a 15-year-old girl died from a GHB overdose. Samantha Reid of Rockwood, Michigan was a victim of date rape. Her death spurred the “Hillory J. Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Drug Prohibition Act of 2000” legislation.

GHB is most widely known as a date rape drug because of such high-profile cases. Most instances where people become aware of GHB use involve sexual assault.

Those who use GHB to orchestrate sexual assault choose the drug for good reason. It is an odorless and nearly tasteless substance that seemingly disappears into drinks without detection. It comes as a white powder or a liquid, both of which dissolve in water quickly. It can be added to most drinks without the individual tasting its presence.

The effects of GHB are also conducive to attack by sexual predators. It renders a person unconscious quickly and impairs the ability to recall events that occurred while under the influence. The person essentially takes a drink at a club and wakes up somewhere else having been assaulted and with no memory of the events.

In addition, GHB is difficult to detect in urine after about 24 hours. A person who wakes up in such a state needs to contact emergency services immediately.

When one considers the extreme danger of taking GHB, it is a wonder why anyone would take it voluntarily. A slight change or increase in dose could render anyone unconscious and unable to fend for him or herself. However, the voluntary use of GHB predominates its typical role.

Athletes are among those at greatest risk for developing an addiction to GHB. The drug is thought to increase level of the Human Growth Hormone, which is a hormone responsible for cell regeneration, cell reproduction, stimulates growth and is a stress hormone. The increase in these levels is thought to increase muscle mass and increase athletic ability.

Those abusing GHB for athletic performance enhancement tend to administer the drug via muscular injection. This can be especially dangerous as the correct dose of GHB is easily missed, causing overdose and death.

Sharing needles for any reason can lead to the contraction of devastating illnesses such as Hepatitis and HIV. Those who use needles for drug use may feel desperate enough for the drug to use someone else’s needle, spreading disease.

When GHB is used regularly for any period, the probability of becoming addicted increases astronomically. The drug affects neurobiology in such a way that it “overrides” other priorities and places itself at the top of the list.

This is one of the trademark moves of addictive substances. It will take over the life and devastates the relationships and opportunities of anyone who falls into its grasp. There is no way to ensure the prevention of addiction without abstinence. For those who are already addicted, the only courses of action left are recovery or death. GHB will eventually kill anyone who takes it long enough. If you have become addicted to this drug, get help today. – Learn More

Short & Long-term Effects

GHB is both used to render a person unconscious and willingly taken to intensify the euphoria and mind-altering nature of other substances. Some people use GHB to aid in muscle building. This drug was originally marketed for narcolepsy and other medical conditions. It is rarely used today due to the extreme side effects and addictive nature. Use of GHB legally or illegally for any period of time can cause significant health problems.

The most reported short-term effects of using GHB are euphoria, drowsiness, decrease in anxiety, hallucinations, aggression, memory loss, unconsciousness, seizures, confusion, nausea, excitement, decline in body temperature and heart rate, slowed breathing, coma and death. The long-term effects of the use of GHB has yet to be identified and reported. However, following the use of GHB one may experience seizures and even go into a coma. This drug is involved in a great number of overdoses, poisonings, drugged rape cases and deaths.

If an individual has been using GHB for a long period of time, stopping the drug will likely cause such withdrawal symptoms of severe psychosis, aggression, sedation, hypertension, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, sweating, tachycardia, and other neurological effects. GHB is marketed as a party drug but seems to cause devastation often. This drug is extremely unpredictable and can quickly cause overdose and death. One of the effects that GHB is best known for is its ability to render a person unconscious before they realize that they have been drugged.

GHB: The Date Rape Drug

GHB is used as an illicit drug that is most commonly found in the dance and night club scene. Often used as a substitute for MDMA and Amphetamine-like drugs, GHB is commonly paired with Alcohol. GHB is also used by body builders and other athletes to improve performance. GHB is known for being a rape drug due to its characteristics. This drug is a central nervous system depressant that paralyzes an individual for a limited amount of time, in addition to the loss of ability to control muscles, amnesia, disorientation and drowsiness.

Public, medical and law enforcement have seen GHB frequently used as a weapon for drugged rape. GHB is easily put into someone’s beverage without him or her knowing. This relatively odorless and tasteless substance is easy to miss in an Alcoholic drink. The most that could hope to be detected is its mild salty taste, which can be easy to miss with many drinks. The effects of GHB are that, in sufficient doses, it renders a person unconscious with decreased ability to remember the circumstances surrounding the events that occurred while the person was under its influence.

Numerous people have gone to a rave or concert, had a drink and the next thing he or she remembered was waking up somewhere unknown. Waking up to the realization that you’ve been raped is no one’s intention when the party begins. The only way to ensure your safety during such an event is to drink from a bottle you opened, carry the drink with you everywhere, keep an eye out and skip the GHB.

  • Will Group Therapy Help My GHB Addiction?
    Yes. Group therapy will show you that you are not fighting your GHB addiction alone.
  • What Do I Do in GHB Group Therapy?
    In group therapy, you will talk about your GHB addiction and relate with others’ battle with their addiction.

True Stories of Addiction: Tiffany Finds the Solution to Drug Use

Your loved one feels isolated and alone in their fight against their addiction. Give them the backup that they need. Holding an intervention for a loved one not only brings their problem to the surface, but shows them that people still care about them. They might be in denial with other people, but most people who have a substance abuse problem are not in denial with themselves. Deep down inside, they know they need help. If you show them that they have support if they decide to get that help, they will be more willing to go to rehab. Let them know that you are not giving up on them.

Inpatient GHB Rehab

When considering the importance of receiving adequate care, one should not make this decision without serious thought. Anyone who is addicted to or abusing GHB is recommended to start with medically managed detox and move directly into inpatient treatment. The detox phase is likely to have severe or lethal complications, making it especially important to have proper medical care during this time.

Inpatient rehab treatment has the highest success rate of any type of program. This is widely attributed to these programs intensive and comprehensive nature. Inpatient treatment centers often offer 30, 60, or 90-day programs, however programs of different lengths can be found. The residential facilities provide meals, transportation and medical appointments for each client, thus removing much of the worry from everyday life. An individual will learn important new ways to cope with daily stress while in a setting where the amount of stress is minimized.

Various therapeutic treatment options are utilized, including individual therapy, group therapy, and educational groups. Individual therapy provides intensive one-on-one focused therapy, typically in the form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Group therapy allows members to learn from the collective experiences of the group and educational seminars provide crucial information about the disease of addiction. Through all these experiences, and more, each person will learn how to handle stress in a healthier and more productive manner. – Learn More

Outpatient GHB Rehab

Outpatient treatment is another tool for getting and staying clean and sober. If you are new to recovery, it is recommended that you start with inpatient and follow that with outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment programs provide much necessary therapy and recovery tools; however, it lacks the intensity and accountability that inpatient provides. Program participants live elsewhere and travel once a week to every day for sessions. Staying the same environment that promoted your using can be detrimental to sobriety.

However, not everyone can attend an inpatient program for time or monetary restrictions. Anyone engaging in an outpatient program is encouraged to enter a sober living facility while attending treatment. This will provide an extra layer of care and sobriety. This could mean the difference between happiness and death. Therapies offered in outpatient treatment are typically like inpatient. Individual therapy, group therapy, and educational groups all provide a piece of the puzzle. Program participants will learn vital coping skill and communication techniques. These crucial skills are key to living a long, happy life free from mood and mind-altering substances.

Many rehab centers base their programs on the 12-steps. During outpatient rehab treatment, individuals are encouraged to attend meetings and work the 12-steps with a sponsor. These programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, have helped millions of people worldwide recover from the devastating disease of addiction. – Learn More