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.