What is GHB?

The drug GHB, also known as gamma-hydroxybutanoic acid, is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that has become a popular psychoactive drug. It is found in the human body, albeit in small amounts. GHB has a history of use as a general anesthetic and was commissioned for the treatment of insomnia, depression, and alcoholism. Once it was marketed as a dietary supplement, GHB was taken off the U.S. market in 1990 due to safety concerns. GHB is a highly addictive substance, and persons with an addiction to GHB often require detox at hospitals and rehab centers.

GHB addiction and treatment

As a depressant, GHB creates a relaxing effect that is like alcohol, although the effects are much more extreme. Sometimes, an individual can barely move or lose consciousness. For this reason, signs of GHB abuse are quite noticeable. Things like memory loss, incoherent or slurred speech, extreme mood swings, increased isolation, and other telltale signs of addiction apply here.

In small doses, GHB acts more like a stimulant, which is why — in 2002 — it was approved to treat narcolepsy. Still, it is a highly controlled substance and recreational use is illegal. Even people who are prescribed GHB can develop an addiction, so it is important to communicate with your doctor while using it. Treatment for GHB addiction mirrors treatment for other substances, especially depressants. Inpatient recovery may be required, as well as medical detox.

Is GHB a date rape drug?

GHB is a dangerous drug capable of rendering users vulnerable and defenseless, which does make it common in crimes of rape and sexual assault. In addition to the significant decrease in mobility and motor skills, excess GHB creates blackout memory loss. Rapists obtain the drug in a powder form and use it to spike drinks in bars or at parties. The trauma of sexual assault notwithstanding, spiking a drink with GHB can result in an overdose if the dosage is high enough. Like other depressants, combining it with alcohol substantially increases the risk of death.

Learn more about GHB with this infographic and share it with anyone looking for facts about GHB abuse and addiction.

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