GHB: Facts about this Date-Rape Drug

GHB: Facts about this Date-Rape Drug

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), has been abused in the U.S. since the 1990s due to its euphoric, sedative and anabolic effects. Available over-the-counter in health food stores in the 1980s until about 1992, GHB was popular with body builders to help reduce fat and build muscle.

Today, GHB is one of the four so-called “date rape” drugs:  MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, Rohypnol, and GHB. Concern over their use to commit sexual assaults, Congress passed the “Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996,” which stiffened penalties for the use of any controlled substance to aid in sexual assault.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) states that drug rape is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America today. Some 85 percent of the drug-related rapes (men and women) are committed by someone the victim knows.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, persons between the ages of 18 to 25 account for 58 percent of GHB mentions in emergency room visits for drug-related causes.

What it is

Gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, is a synthetically produced central nervous system depressant. It was used initially by body builders to stimulate and promote muscle growth. Today, GHB is popular among teens and young adults in the club and rave scene. Known as a “designer” drug, GHB is synthesized from a chemical used to clean electrical circuit boards.

Common street names

On the street, they call GHB by various names: cap (cap full), caps, cherry meth, easy lay, everclear, fantasy, G, Georgia Home Boy, G-riffic, Gamma Oh, GBH, great hormones at bedtime, goop, Grievous Bodily Harm, liquid E, liquid ecstasy, liquid G, liquid X, organic Quaalude, salty water, scoop, sleep, sleep-500, soap, Somatomax, Vita-G, and water.

How to identify GHB

There are three forms of GHB: liquid, white powder and capsule. In its liquid form, it is virtually colorless and odorless, possessing a salty or soapy taste. When mixed with other liquids, as in a beverage, it is virtually undetectable.

How GHB is used

Doses of the powder form of GHB are fairly straightforward. The drug is usually sold on the street in liquid form by the dose, which can range from a few drops to a full glass in a variety of concentrations. GHB is often put in water guns, and is sold to users by the squirt. Another method of use is candy dipped in GHB.

GHB is often combined with alcohol and/or other drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy).

Effects of GHB

In lower or mild doses, GHB can alleviate anxiety and give users a sense of relaxation – which may be why the majority of users, teens and young adults, find it so popular. As dosage increases, however, the sedative effects can put a person to sleep. Since the drug is manufactured in clandestine laboratories, its purity is always in question: you never know what you’re really getting.

Why GHB is bad for you

Due to its varying strength and purity, GHB affects people differently every time they take it. This wildly unpredictable nature of the drug and its effect on the user may be another reason for its popularity. But the results can be tragic. Some of the dangers include:

• Accidents (due to the drug’s sedative effect, particularly dangerous while driving)

• Coma

• Death

• Loss of consciousness

• Overdose (nausea, slowed heart rate, decreased level of consciousness)

• Respiratory arrest

• Seizures

• Vomiting

Addicting?

Highly addictive with sustained use, GHB is extremely dangerous, especially when combined with alcohol and other drugs. GHB can cause severe dependence anywhere from two months to three years after discontinuing use, according to one study. Withdrawal effects range from mild to severe, depending on length of usage. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal include:

• Delirium

• Hallucinations

• Hypertension

• Increased heart rate

• Nausea

• Profuse sweating

• Psychosis and severe agitation, requiring protective restraints

• Tremors

• Vomiting

GHB is a Schedule I drug, under the Controlled Substances Act. It has been banned in the U.S. since 1990. Possession, distribution or manufacture of GHB can result in a lengthy prison term — up to 20 years.

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