Also known as:
Liquid ecstasy, Liquid X, GBL
GHB and the law
GHB is a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
What is GHB?
Gammahydroxybutyrate, or GHB is a depressant which works by slowing down your nervous system. It is a synthetic drug although it is similar to a chemical called gamma amino butyric acid which occurs naturally in the brain.
GHB stimulates the release of growth hormones which reduce fat and helps to build muscle and it is for this reason that body builders use it as an alternative to anabolic steroids.
What does it look like?
It can be found in two forms, the first as a salty tasting colourless liquid with no distinguishing smell, or secondly in a powder form as capsules.
How is it used?
Both forms of GHB are mixed or dissolved in water or juice. However users may mix it with alcohol but this is extremely dangerous.
What are the effects?
The strength of GHB can vary from bottle to bottle. It is a sedative that also produces feelings of euphoria. In small doses it induces an alcohol-like high where users feel relaxed, more talkative and in a better mood. Inhibitions are lowered and libido increased.
When do the effects start and how long do they last?
The effects of GHB start within 10-20 minutes and last about two to three hours.
What are the risks?
At higher doses, GHB becomes more of a sedative. It may cause sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, muscle stiffness and confusion. Really high doses can lead to convulsions, coma and respiratory collapse. GHB should never be mixed with alcohol or any other depressant drugs such as heroin, ketamine and tranquillisers as it can have unpredictable, sometimes fatal reaction.
There is growing concern over the use of GHB as a 'date rape' drug due to its sedative nature which slows down the body's actions, lowers inhibitions and leaves users open to sexual exploitation.
The long-term risks of using GHB are not known, however, it is possible that tolerance, physical and psychological dependence could result.
Is it addictive?
For heavy users it can be physically and psychologically addictive for heavy users but to a lesser degree than alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
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