GHB

What is GHB?

 

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GHB (gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) is a narcotic sedative that acts as a central nervous system depressant. As a depressant, GHB works by slowing brain activity and activating the opioid system which is responsible for reducing pain. Medically, GHB was used to treat conditions that cause loss of muscle control (cataplexy) and narcolepsy. GHB is a naturally occurring component in the body, but when synthesized it is commonly found in clear liquid form. GHB also comes in a white powder with a soapy texture or chalky tablets available in multiple colors. GHB is usually ingested by mixing it with a liquid such as water or alcohol, but can also be injected.

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Is GHB Dangerous?

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GHB can be incredibly dangerous, especially due to its unpredictability. It is impossible to determine how any dose of GHB will effect the user, making each use a gamble. People seeking a sense of euphoria and inhibition may instead find themselves suffering from vomiting and seizures and at risk of death. Deaths caused by GHB use or overdosing are often accidental and involve people who never knew they had ingested the drug.

 

A Brief History of GHB

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In 1960 GHB was synthesized and introduced to the medical industry as an anesthetic. Three years later it was discovered that the compound occurs naturally in the brain, however had poor analgesic capabilities. GHB was later abandoned as an anesthetic, but prescribed as a treatment for narcolepsy in the 1970s. Eventually it was found to be less than effective as a narcolepsy medication, so it was marketed as a fat burner and muscle builder causing its popularity to raise. By the 90s the FDA had determined the chemical unsafe and it was removed from commercial sale, causing manufacturers to change to using GBL (gamma butyrolactone) and BD (butanediol)- neither of which was approved for human consumption. In March of 2000 president Bill Clinton officially declared GHB a schedule I controlled drug.

 

GHB and the Party Scene

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Because it is a sedative and a central nervous system depressant, GHB became popular amongst ravers and partiers. The euphoric feeling, dream-like state, and muscular relaxation the drug causes and the easy to conceal nature of the drug made GHB a staple of the party scene throughout the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately people with nefarious intent discovered a second use for the drug. GHB is colorless and odorless, though some can detect a salty or soapy taste. It is often confiscated in water bottles, eye droppers, and pre-mixed into alcohol. When an unknowing victim consumes the tainted liquid, effects set in within 15 minutes, leaving them vulnerable to the manipulation of the predator. Victims of date rape who have been dosed with GHB may have no recollection of the incident, as an additional side effect of GHB use is amnesia.

 

Nicknames for GHB

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As an illicit street drug, GHB has garnished over a dozen nicknames. Perhaps the most telling of these is “Grave Bodily Harm”- a foreshadowing to the possibly deadly side effects of GHB abuse. Other names for GHB are:

  • Liquid X
  • Liquid XTC
  • Salt Water
  • Scoop
  • Soap
  • Georgia Home Boy
  • G-caps
  • Easy Lay
  • Everclear
  • Smart Drug
  • Gamma-OH
  • Vita G
  • Fantasy
  • Cherry Meth
  • Jib
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