Addicted to Gamma Hydroxybutyrate? Seek expert advice here.
*This page was medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, April 2021.
If you are suffering from GHB addiction, then you have come to the right place. Help4Addiction have been connecting addicts with rehab clinics that can help throughout England and Wales, for many years now.
If you have already decided that you want to quit using, you can contact us directly on the number at the top of the page. If you haven’t decided to quit yet, here is everything you need to know about being addicted to GHB.
What is GHB addiction?
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate[i]) is known most commonly as a ‘date rape’ drug or ‘club’ drug. Many people choose to take the drug voluntarily, as it can cause increased libido, euphoria, relaxation and lowered inhibitions. Bodybuilders used to take GHB as a dietary supplement to enhance muscle mass without steroids. Now it has been banned for these purposes.
GHB can be sold illicitly as an ink stain remover, fish tank cleaner, nail enamel remover and ink cartridge cleaner for a much higher amount that these products would usually cost. People who produce and sell GHB are subject to illegal drug penalties.
How is GHB used?
GHB can be extremely addictive. It is sold as a white powder to be dissolved in liquid or as a clear liquid, and it is odourless. It is said to be sold mostly by the capful at clubs or parties for anything between £2.50 to £20. GHB is often mixed with alcohol or other drugs to amplify its effects (See Dual Diagnosis), which make it even more dangerous to consume.
GHB is fast acting. Studies have shown that is absorbed into the blood stream in about a minute and a half[ii].
Other names for GHB
GHB has many different names, as is often the case with club drugs. Some street names of GHB include:
- The Date Rape Drug
- The forget me pill
- Mind Eraser
- Mexican Valium
- La Rocha[iii]
And many others.
Is GHB addictive?
GHB is a substance that is extremely addictive, even in small doses. As it has the effects of a stimulant, people can become dependent on the way it makes them feel. This dangerous drug also has the relaxing effects of alcohol too. When taken in high doses this can then cause someone to fall unconscious within just a few minutes. People can be very easily persuaded to try the drug when they are out in a club and under the influence of alcohol, but it is essential to steer clear of any dangerous substances such as GHB.
What does GHB do to your body?
When you take this drug, it goes straight to the brain. GHB targets to specific receptors: GABAB and the GHB receptor. When the drug meets your receptors it acts as a stimulant, releasing a euphoric feeling. It simultaneously causes impairment of the body’s motor skills. Once the receptors return to normal, they are temporarily exhausted. This exhaustion leads to deep lows of mood. GHB might be fun at the time you take it, but afterwards you will suffer.
You might not be awake to enjoy it, either. GHB can make you nonsensical, reducing you to a suggestive state which puts you in danger[iv].
Studies show that roughly 95% of the GHB you take will be gone from the body within 90 minutes[v]. Since the remaining 5% is all that stays in your system, it is extremely difficult to spot after that hour and a half period.
GHB and Alcohol
GHB Should never be mixed with alcohol, hypnotics, sedatives, or any other drugs that contain depressants. If you do mix these, you can expect some severe side effects[vi]. As well as a horrific low when you come off the drug, you can expect respiratory problems, sweats and shakes, vomiting, nausea, and even death if the dose was large enough.
GHB Reclassification in Britain
Despite being graded as a Class C drug in the UK for many years, a high profile rape case[vii] has seen the government elevate it to a Class B. As recently as March of this year, a man was jailed for a minimum of 30 years after using GHB to drug and rape more than 40 men in his Manchester flat. The horror of this case has seen Priti Patel call for a review into its classification.
GHB and Chemsex: What is Chemsex?
Chemsex ss the act of using chemicals during sexual intercourse, or the act of using drugs before intercourse with the intention of increasing the feelings created during. Commonly known chemsex drugs include poppers, cocaine, and MDMA. Chemsex is often labelled as exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community. This is not the case. There are plenty of heterosexual people who use drugs to enhance sexual pleasure.
Chemsex and GHB are closely linked. One study found that the median age for death by GHB use was 34, and that the prevalence is towards men who identified as gay[viii]. Although the media portrays GHB as the primary drug used in Chemsex, London-based clinicians deny this. One Professor who runs a Chemsex clinic in London[ix] noted that only about 5% of gay men routinely use GHB in sex. Those that do use it, tend to do so infrequently.
What are the signs of GHB addiction?
If you are worried about a loved one, there are a few telltale signs you can look out for. When you see someone under the influence of GHB they might display some of the following signs:
- Slow movement
- Heightened sex drive
- Lower inhibitions
- Slowed breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Higher energy levels
- Memory loss
What are the symptoms of GHB addiction?
If you have been using the drug for a long time and aren’t sure whether or not you are addicted, look out for some of the common symptoms of GHB addiction. These include:
- Memory loss
- Lowered body temperature
There is an added risk of GHB overdose with this drug and death is more common than you might think. if you think someone as taking too much of this substance, act fast and take them to hospital. Unfortunately, GHB overdose is common and requires urgent medical treatment. Some of the most common overdose symptoms can include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Blurred vision
- Extreme fatigue
- Physical stumbling
- Muscle spasms
GHB overdose has no antidote, so it is critical to seek specialist advice as soon as possible.
Treatment options for GHB addiction
There are many ways that GHB can be treated but all methods take the same format. You will go through detox, move onto rehab, then participate in aftercare when you leave.
Stage one – detox
It only takes 12 hours for GHB to leave the body completely. This has frustrated many a rape case. On the other hand, you will start to feel the symptoms of withdrawal within as little as an hour after use. This means detox from GHB is painstaking but comparatively faster than with other drugs. If you partake in medically assisted detox, it should take the pain out of the process for you.
Stage 2 – rehab
Rehab clinics offer various programmes, each aimed at helping you conquer addiction. When seeking a rehab clinic it is important that you choose one which caters to your specific needs. Don’t be overwhelmed, just give us a call.
Rehab begins once you are able to manage the symptoms of GHB withdrawal without being confined to your bed. It will involve different types of therapies which will help you discern why you became addicted to drugs in the first place, and what you can do to prevent relapse.
Stage 3 – secondary treatment
The third stage in treating addiction as secondary treatment. Also known as aftercare, this treatment helps you manage the transition back into normal life.
Therapies used to treat GHB
There are many addiction treatment therapy options available to you. A typical rehab clinic will offer group therapy and one on one sessions with a psychologist as a bare minimum. You might also benefit from REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) which helps you combat feelings of defeat, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which will help you address you need to use drugs to begin with, and DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) which help you talk through those problems[x].
GHB treatment timeline
The detox period for GHB addiction runs to roughly 5 days. You should expect to feel the withdrawal symptoms from GHB for up to two weeks. After this, you may find withdrawal symptoms and cravings come and go for a few months.
Withdrawal symptoms of GHB
Some symptoms of GHB withdrawal can include:
- Psychotic thoughts
- Increased heart rate
Some medical professionals state that GHB can be harder to quit than a heroin addiction[xi].
NHS help for GHB Addiction
The NHS are unlikely to put you in rehab for GHB addiction, mostly because it is not a Class A drug. However, you can read about alternative treatment options for those that cannot afford rehab on our pages. You will also find detailed information on what the NHS may be able to do to help you.
Private rehab is usually residential and focuses on treating you as an inpatient. The only time you should be seen as an outpatient for GHB addiction, is when you are transitioning back into normal life. Private rehab will mean you are seen sooner than with the NHS, and that you can get help on your terms, when you need it.
If you can afford it, there are private residential rehab facilities who offer luxury stays. These luxury rehab establishments are usually frequented by celebrities but are not essential if you want to beat your addiction. A luxury rehab clinic will do everything it can to make your recovery from GHB addiction as comfortable as possible.
Free consultation for GHB addiction
Here at Help4Addiction we offer free consultations with no obligations attached. Use the button at the top of the page to start your own consultation if you believe you may be suffering from a GHB addiction. You can contact us for advice, to talk about treatment options, or even because you have decided to quit.
How to get help for an addiction to GHB?
Help 4 Addiction is here to help you find a rehab centre that will suit your individual needs so that you can make a full recovery. We can put you in touch with a reputable rehab centre near you so that you can start to live your life to the fullest again. You don’t deserve to be held back by your drug addiction, let us steer you onto a better path.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is GHB?
Can you get addicted to GHB?
How do people take GHB?
What are the dangers of taking GHB?
Is it illegal to take GHB?
Does GHB cause depression?
Is GHB a date rape drug?
Can you spot GHB in your drink?
What are the side effects of using GHB?