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  • GHB – Gamma Hydroxybutyrate Or Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid

    GHB - Gamma Hydroxybutyrate Or Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid

    GHB, also known as gamma hydroxybutyrate or gamma hydroxybutyric acid, is a club drug that can cause euphoria, hallucinations, and loss of consciousness. It is referred to as a “date rape drug” and has been associated with sexual assaults. 

    Even one dose of GHB can cause an overdose, which may result in respiratory depression and death. If you or a loved one is dependent on GHB, professional treatment in a detox facility is likely recommended. 

    What Is GHB?

    GHB is a designer drug, which means it is manufactured for the purpose of recreational use. It is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means the strength and purity of the drug may vary. 

    GHB is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States, which means it has no accepted medical use. However, sodium oxybate, a derivative of GHB, is sold as a legal prescription under the brand name Xyrem. 

    Xyrem, which is used in the treatment of narcolepsy, is a schedule III controlled substance. It is regulated by the FDA and has a lower potential for abuse than GHB. 

    GHB is also associated with GBL (gamma butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol), a recreational drug that converts to GHB when ingested. 

    Street Names

    Street names for GHB include:

    • grievous bodily harm
    • Georgia home boy
    • fantasy
    • liquid x
    • liquid ecstasy
    • growth hormone booster

    GHB has also been used as a dietary supplement by bodybuilders. GHB is not safe to use as a supplement and high doses can cause slowed heart rate, coma, and death. 

    Effects Of GHB

    GHB is a central nervous system depressant that may cause feelings of euphoria and hallucinations. Effects occur within 20 minutes of ingestion and can last up to 4 hours. 

    Side effects of GHB may include:

    • lowered inhibitions
    • increased sex drive
    • drowsiness
    • tremors
    • nausea
    • diarrhea
    • dizziness
    • vision changes
    • short-term memory loss

    Each dose may vary in strength and taking just a small amount can still result in severe side effects. Confusion, dizziness, memory loss, and sleepiness increase the risk of injury, sexual assault, and high-risk behaviors. 

    Risks Of GHB

    There is no safe use of GHB and long-term use is associated with serious health problems, including overdose and dependence. 

    Other health problems associated with GHB use include:

    • memory impairment
    • hallucinations
    • severe anxiety 
    • heart disease
    • breathing problems


    GHB is colorless, odorless, and easily slipped into alcoholic drinks. Mixing GHB with alcohol increases the sedative effects of the drug and can cause a life-threatening overdose. 

    When someone unknowingly consumes a drink spiked with GHB, they may pass out and stop breathing. 

    Even when taken by itself, GHB can cause a life-threatening overdose. Signs of overdose include:

    • vomiting
    • slowed breathing
    • confusion
    • hallucinations
    • loss of consciousness

    Along with alcohol, GHB should never be combined with other depressant drugs. These drugs, including benzodiazepines and opioids, also increase the risk of overdose. A GHB overdose can be fatal and requires immediate medical care. 


    Frequent drug use can cause your body to become dependent on GHB. Stopping drug use when you are dependent can cause withdrawal syndrome. GHB withdrawal can be dangerous and may cause seizures, cardiac arrest, and renal failure. 

    If you or a loved one is dependent on GHB, they should speak with their healthcare professional about treatment. 

    GHB withdrawal symptoms may include:

    • agitation
    • paranoia
    • anxiety
    • confusion
    • increased heart rate
    • tremors
    • hallucinations

    Withdrawal usually occurs within the first three days of stopping GHB use and may last up to two weeks. 

    GHB Abuse Treatment

    Drug abuse can be difficult to overcome, especially if it progresses into a substance use disorder (SUD). Healing from drug abuse or addiction is not easy but you don’t have to do it alone. You can receive positive support and medical care in a treatment program. 

    These programs are designed to help you build a solid foundation to begin your recovery process. Inpatient and outpatient programs offer a variety of services, including behavioral therapy, addiction education, support groups, and individual counseling

    If you or a loved one is struggling with GHB abuse, Ark Behavioral Health can help. Please call us today to speak with a specialist about treatment options.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    American Academy Of Family Physicians (AAFP) - Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB): A Newer Drug of Abuse
    Better Health Channel - GHB
    United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - GHB - Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 20, 2022
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