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Gammahydroxybutyrate, “GHB”


Street name
GHB, GBH, “liquid Ecstasy”

Drug effect
Euphoric sedative effect. Effects noticeable within 10 minutes to one hour and can last up to 24 hours.

Colourless liquid (purchased in small bottles), coloured capsules.

Therapeutic use
Anaesthetic with a sedative quality. GHB has been used as a premedication to surgery and more recently, it has been used in treatment for sleep disorders.

Method of use
Taken orally, some reports of injection (rare).

Physical and psychological dependence.

Withdrawal produces an agitated state, as with other types of sedative drugs, though little has been recorded on the true nature of the withdrawal.

Long-term use
There is also little evidence concerning the effects of long-term use, therefore the consequences of such use are unknown.

Overdose risk
Similar to barbiturates, there is a fine line between the amount that is required to achieve the desired effect and that which will lead to coma. There is also high risk of overdose should GHB be mixed with similar substances such as alcohol or other central nervous system depressants.

Legal status
GHB is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, so possession is not an offence. However, it is classed as a medicine and, consequently, unauthorised manufacture and/or distribution is an offence under the Medicines Act.

Special note GHB is not only used by people on the dance and club scene but also by bodybuilders, though as yet with unknown effects.