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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