Young people seeking treatment and support don't often name GHB as a problematic drug but a basic understanding of GHB is essential.

WHAT

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a depressant, it slows down the rate of in which our brain sends chemical messages to the rest of the body. It used to be used as a legal anaesthetic. Although it slows the bodies reactions down it is mostly (but not always) used as a drug at parties and clubs

GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) and 1,4-BD are chemicals that are closely related to GHB. Once GBL or 1,4-BD enter the body, they convert to GHB almost immediately.

OTHER NAMES:

‘G’, fantasy, grievous bodily harm (GBH), liquid ecstasy, liquid E, liquid X, salty water, juice, soap, scoop, cherry meth and blue nitro.

HOW COMMON IS USAGE?

0.3 per cent of Australians over age 14 had used GHB (National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2013). 

APPEARANCE

GHB is a clear liquid with astringent bitter or salty taste odourless, usually sold in small bottles or vials or in soy sauce fish capsule. Also comes as a bright blue liquid, known as ‘blue nitro', and less commonly as crystal powder.

USE

Ingested or sometimes injected.

If you wish to find out more about safe dosing Erowid has some useful information. 

EFFECTS

Euphoria, increased libido, reduced inhibitions, memory lapses, clumsiness or loss of motor control, dizziness or headaches, lowered body temperature and heart rate, difficulty urinating and sleepiness.

If taken orally the high is usually felt within 15-20 minutes and lasts between three and four hours. If injected the high is usually felt immediately.

Weight, health, amount, frequency of usage, quality of drug all play a role in how GHB effects a person. 

OVERDOSE

It is important to note that GHB appears to be dose dependant due to the manufacturing of it. This means that it is easy to overdose on.

Incoherence, profuse sweating, vomiting, irregular or shallow breathing, involuntary muscle contractions, or the inability to be roused or woken. A GHB overdoes is often referred to as “blowing out”.

An ambulance should be called if any of these symptoms occur.

COMMON MIXERS

GHB in combination with alcohol and other depressants, as well as prescribed medication, increases the likelihood of overdose.

Using GHB to ease a stimulant comedown may lead to a cycle of increased usage and dependency.

It is important to note that GHB appears to be dose dependent due to the manufacturing of it, it can is easy to overdose on.

SOME HARM REDUCTION STRATEGIES

Encourage a young person to: -

  • Remember that GHB is dose dependant, always start with a small amount
  • Avoid taking more GHB if the first does has not achieved the desired effect
  • Follow these 'golden rules' to avoid dependence
  • Understand that there are ways to inject safely if they are injecting.
  • understand the risks involved in mixing other drugs and alcohol, including prescription medication.
  • let someone know if you are not feeling well after using.
  • Talk to a young person about having a person to call in case they are feeling worried, paranoid or start to panic.
  • call an ambulance if you are worried at any point about themselves or a friend. Remind them that an ambulance will not call the police.
  • try a small amount first, wait to see how the drug affects them before taking more. 
  • never using alone.
  • take regular breaks from use to avoid dependency.
  • stay hydrated when they are using
  • think about the dangers of drinking and using drugs and driving or getting in a car with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs.
  • be in a safe and comfortable space.
  • make a plan prior to using, get them to plan to only use a certain amount, get them to make a “just in case” plan, and get them to plan how they are going to get home.

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Try the YouthAOD toolbox for further in-depth information or ask YoDAA