man holding ghb pills

The Dangerous Rise of GHB

Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid, most commonly known as GHB, is a controlled substance in the state of California, but that doesn’t stop people from abusing it. Sometimes it’s called “liquid ecstasy” when it’s sold in small dosages on the street. GHB is well-known as a “date rape” drug due to coverage in the media in the past few years. It has been used to commit sex crimes because it’s hard to detect when it’s dissolved. When the dosage is a large one, the drug can make a person pass out for many hours and lose their memory. Doctors can prescribe GHB, in its basic form, for specific rare medical purposes. The GHB that people tend to abuse, however, does not typically come from any doctor.

Why Do People Use GHB?

While some people have a valid prescription for GHB, it’s a medication that doctors rarely prescribe. When it is legitimate, a doctor prescribes it to people with narcolepsy, a disorder where a person falls asleep minute to minute. In small doses, GHB acts as a stimulant. Some bodybuilders also use GHB for performance-enhancement. They usually buy it illicitly and often from an internet supplier. They believe that it’s a relatively safe and easy way to bulk up by increasing their growth hormone, therefore increasing their muscle mass and decreasing their fat mass. Many people don’t realize is that GHB is also used recreationally. Sometimes it’s called “liquid ecstasy.” Like all narcotics, the drug is addictive and dangerous. Most of the people who abuse the drug get it through illicit means. Usually, GHB is snorted, smoked, or dissolved in a drink. Higher doses of the drug that have a reputation as a date rape drug – it can knock a person out cold. Most of the people who abuse the drug are taking it in small doses for the euphoric and “hypnotic” feeling they say it gives them. GHB is commonly abused by people who are in drug treatment, on probation or parole and need to pass a urine test. That’s because it doesn’t stay in the body as long as other addictive drugs. GHB sticks in a user’s body for only four to twelve hours after they ingest it.

Dangers of GHB

GHB is classified as a narcotic for a reason – it’s dangerous, and side effects could be deadly. Many people like to take methamphetamine/crystal meth with GHB, believing it counteracts some of the depressive effects GHB. This combination is a terrible idea – it can cause a severe reaction such as heart attack, seizures, or stroke. Some people have a bad reaction to the drug on its own and have similar health emergencies. Overdoses are common with the drug. People tend to underestimate its effects and like to mix it with other substances as they continue to party. Symptoms of GHB Use Include:
  • Drowsiness or nodding off.
  • Blackouts where the user doesn’t remember what happened.
  • Balance and speech difficulties, similar to being drunk.
  • Agitation or anxiety.
Symptoms of an overdose include:
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Lack of response.
  • Slowed breathing or trouble with breathing.
  • Blackout or short-term memory issues.
  • Trouble speaking or focusing.
If a person has overdosed on GHB or another drug, medical help is necessary. There are many dangers from the damage caused by overdose, including a heart attack or coma. People who use other drugs alongside GHB, especially other stimulants like methamphetamine/crystal meth, are highly likely to experience an overdose that leads to seizures, coma, or death.

Is GHB Addictive?

Many people start out using GHB for its euphoric effects but soon find that they’re addicted to it. It’s a drug that quickly changes your brain to depend on it. An addicted person will quickly build a tolerance to the drug and need more of it to get the feeling they crave. The feeling of euphoria is a powerful thing, and many users chase this high. People who are addicted may start to depend on the drug to have fun. When they stop using, they also experience physical and mental withdrawal effects. These include feelings of anxiety or irritation, shaking, sweating, and changes in a person’s sleeping patterns. Other withdrawal symptoms a person can have from GHB include high blood pressure, diarrhea or stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting. Withdrawal from GHB can be dangerous, but it’s not impossible. Within five days of initially detoxing from GHB, a person can end up having severe mental health symptoms or psychosis. They may have complicated delusions, hallucinations, and seem confused. Some people become violent in this state, but when a person detoxes in a clinical environment where symptoms can be treated and monitored by a nurse and doctor. All of these symptoms should resolve within a few weeks, although some people have these symptoms for months or even permanent brain damage from long-term use. GHB is a dangerous and addictive drug, and if you or somebody you know is secretly using this drug, they’re doing damage to themselves. You don’t have to go it alone; there is plenty of help available. No matter what path you’ve been on, recovery is available to you. Give yourself a chance! Learn more about the options available to you to reclaim your life.

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Fentanyl Use and Addiction Has Become More Common

The addiction epidemic is still being fought across America. More awareness seems to have helped states get a few more resources to battle the epidemic, but thousands of people are overdosing more everyday. An influx in fentanyl, a drug that’s nearly 50 to 100 times the strength of morphine, has caused overdoses in every state that has a drug problem. Many of these overdoses are by people who aren’t even aware that they’re taking fentanyl.

Why is Fentanyl Causing So Many OD’s and Deaths?

Fentanyl is becoming a common factor in drug overdoses and deaths. According to data from the Department of Health in California, fentanyl deaths skyrocketed by 614% to 743 in 2018. Many of the deaths are attributed to the rise of counterfeit pills. Drug users who buy the pills believe that they’re getting a different drug. Most of the people who overdose on fentanyl are addicted to other opioids, such as heroin or Oxycontin. The pills are cut to look like Oxycontin or other less potent drugs. Sometimes the fentanyl is mixed with a the drug. The drug buyers usually don’t know what they’re getting. This means that they may be used to taking two or more of the Oxy pills at a time due to a tolerance. But taking two pills of fentanyl can be deadly to most users of less strong drugs.

Tainting the Drug Market

Drug dealers have also been substituting fentanyl for heroin or adding fentanyl to the heroin they’re selling. Because fentanyl is so much stronger than heroin, it’s likely the dealers believe that adding fentanyl will addict more users. Sometimes the supply is tainted before it gets to America and the drug dealers don’t know about it. Usually, the drug dealer is just being callous and trying to addict a user more efficiently. In California, there are a lot of tainted pills. Fentanyl has been found in crystal meth, cocaine, heroin, MDMA. Some people become addicted to drugs because of the fentanyl content, while other simply overdose. When a person addicted to a less potent drug ingests a large amount of fentanyl, they’re not used to it. It is usually hundreds of times stronger than the drug they normally use. This causes overdoses that are often fatal. Even first responders have trouble reviving people who overdose on fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a Becoming a Big Problem in California

Unlike Oxycontin, many people use fentanyl buy it from a drug dealer on the street. But where does this drug, which is only supposed to be used for things like cancer and surgery, come from? How does it get into the hands of addicted people? While taking heat for trying to flood the world with Oxycontin, drug companies are not likely to  supply the drug en masse. Instead, the government has had to find and shut down dirty doctors who have operated what are described as “pill mills”. California has been cracking down on opioid distribution for years. Unfortunately, when it comes to the war on opioids, it’s often like playing whack-a-mole to keep up with dealers and distributors.

Southern California’s Fentanyl Problem

In 2018, state prosecutors busted a doctor in Southern California operating a “pill mill” that prescribed thousands of Oxycontin pills to dead and incarcerated people. Pill mills are doctor offices breaking the law and overprescribing purposefully. The offices become a place where addicted people and drug dealers alike go to get hundreds of pills. These pills then, in turn, flood the streets. Today, there are fewer suspected pill mills in California and drugs are often trafficked from other states. Doctors breaking the law or overprescribing are often flagged under computer monitoring programs. It takes law enforcement a long time to build a case. Much of the fentanyl that is distributed in the United States comes from outside the United States, especially China or Mexico, which of course makes California a likely market. In October, 2019, another bust in Southern California netted enough of the drug to make kill four million people. “It has become increasingly common for us to see drug dealers peddling counterfeit pharmaceuticals made with fentanyl,” United States Attorney Nick Hanna told the media as he answered questions about fentanyl deaths in California earlier this year. “As a consequence, fentanyl is now the number one cause of overdose deaths in the United States.”

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