What is GHB and How Is It Used?
While certain drugs are known for causing addiction by the general public, others aren’t reported on as often. These drugs are often seen around the club scene and promoted through dealers, but the average person knows very little about them. One such drug is known as GHB. Recognized mainly by its initials, this drug has gained popularity with drug users and dealers since its inception.
The History of GHB
GHB is 4-hydroxybutanoic acid, which actually occurs naturally in the brain in small amounts. It is a neurotransmitter and also a psychoactive drug, which has been used in the medical field for general anesthesia and for various conditions. Another way GHB is formed is through fermentation, and it can be seen in some wines and beers. However, this small quantity is much less than what is acquired as an illegal drug. GHB was first discovered in 1961 even though other versions were in effect long before that time. It became popular in France and other areas for its medical value, but was soon taken out of use once the negative effects were discovered. It is now labeled as a Schedule I drug because of its highly addictive properties. This change is fairly recent, only receiving the status in 2000. In the past, it was marketed as a drug to build muscles and help people lose weight. While GHB does have some medical value, it is far more well-known for its recreational and party use. It’s obtained under the guise of many street names. Some of the most common include the following:
- Liquid X
- Liquid E
- Georgia Home Boy
- Liquid Ecstasy
It is also known as a club drug and is prevalent at bars, parties and all-night dance parties or raves. It is most often used by teenagers and young adults. GHB is also used as a date rape drug because of its ability to make the user unconscious at higher levels. People who use the drug for pleasure have increased euphoria and feelings of tranquility. They may also notice an increased sex drive when they are high.
Abuse of GHB
GHB is generally ingested either in liquid form or as a white powder. It is often combined with alcohol. Sometimes it may have a soapy or salty taste, but it’s often considered to be odorless and colorless, which is why it is effective as a date rape drug. The drug is made in illegal labs and may contain other contaminants, which could render it even riskier. To make GHB, the manufacturer often mixes drain cleaner or lye with the chemical GBL, which is an industrial floor stripper. Because only two ingredients are required, it can also be made at home. Abuse of this drug is not as widespread as many other drugs, but it can be harmful and addictive. Its use as a date rape drug has elevated concern over this drug for many.
Symptoms of Abuse and Withdrawal
By far, the most common symptom of GHB abuse is unconsciousness. This symptom is reported in 69 percent of users. Other effects of using this drug include sweating, nausea, headaches, vomiting, sluggishness, confusion, exhaustion or feelings of fatigue, amnesia and auditory and visual hallucinations. GHB is a short-lived drug with a life in the system of only 30-60 minutes. It also cannot be found in urine samples in over 24 hours, though it will still show in hair testing. Symptoms of abuse become more serious when GHB is combined with alcohol, sedatives or other drugs. The person may have more nausea and vomiting as well as serious respiratory depression. When taken in high doses, the person may experience sedation and seizures or coma. It can cause severe respiratory issues and even lead to death. , Many medical emergencies involving GHB often include other drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana and others. The combination of drugs can make treatment more difficult, especially since the GHB doesn’t stay in the system for long. Withdrawal happens when the person has become addicted to the drug. It can be severe and prolonged, depending on how much was used and how often. When a person is in withdrawal, they are likely to experience insomnia and severe anxiety. You may notice severe sweating and physical tremors. Withdrawal generally lasts for at least three days, and it may continue for up to three weeks after the last encounter.
Treatment for GHB Addiction
You may not find a treatment center specifically for GHB abuse and addiction. It’s not as prevalent of a problem as other drugs, but it still carries a high risk of addiction. Another reason to look for a more general treatment center is because users often take GHB in conjunction with alcohol and other drugs. A treatment facility geared towards multiple drug addictions may be more beneficial. Detoxification is often the first step once a physical evaluation has been done to evaluate the person’s health. This helps the medical staff to determine the level of risk to the person during detox. This phase can be particularly painful if the addiction was severe or if the person was addicted to multiple drugs. Detoxing is best done under the supervision of trained medical staff, often in a residential treatment center. This helps ensure the person doesn’t relapse during withdrawal. Many people don’t realize they have a problem with GHB addiction because the drug is often used so casually. It is only when negative consequences are seen that anybody recognized the need for help. The second stage of treatment is therapy. This program may last for 30 days or even longer. Part of the decision on how long treatment is needed is based on other factors, such as if there are any emotional or psychological issues and how much support the person has. Treatment may be handled on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the program and the needs of the abuser. Sometimes the person can only be away from responsibilities for a short period of time in an inpatient facility. They may continue treatment in an outpatient setting or with a 12-step program.
Types of Treatment
Because treatment may be at a general facility and because GHB abuse is similar to other drugs, therapy programs will often be similar. The user will attend individual counseling sessions as well as group therapy to help them learn how to overcome their addiction. There may be other services based upon what the specific program offers. A common part of treatment is behavioral cognitive therapy, which helps a person understand the reason for addiction and how to change their behavior. Part of most programs is relapse prevention, which helps people continue with recovery even in the face of temptation. For people who abused GHB, they will have to change their habits if they spent time in the clubs. They may need to reevaluate their circle of friends and avoid those who are using. When they attempt to continue associating with friends who are a negative influence, recovering addicts may find they face temptation that is difficult to overcome. If you or a loved one has been using GHB – even if it is recreational use, you may need to seek out help. Treatment programs are available now to help you overcome your drug abuse and addiction. The Oceanfront Recovery Addiction Treatment Program can help you or your loved one through the difficult and dangerous process of withdrawal and subsequent recovery from addiction. Our clinicians focus on bringing the underlying causes of addiction to the surface with a modern and effective recovery program in a closed setting. Contact Oceanfront Recovery today for a confidential assessment, and begin the journey of recovery from addiction today.