GHB Information and Risk Reduction
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) and GBL (gamma butyrolactone) are depressant type drugs which can produce a high with small doses and sedation with only slightly higher doses. In ireland the term 'G' or 'Gina' is generally used to describe these substances.
GBL is used legitimately as an industrial solvent and paint stripper. GHB/GBL are controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The effects of G will vary from person to person and will depend on how much is consumed.
Sometimes G can be bought as an already mixed solution or in its pure form of GHB/GBL. When consumed pure or almost pure, G can taste very unpleasant and may cause burns. In liquid form, G comes in a variety of different bottles.
- GHB: an odourless, oily liquid with a slightly salty taste, usually sold in small bottles or capsules.The effects of GHB usually occur 15-20 minutes after ingestionand can last for up to three or four hours, if not longer, depending on the person taking it and the amount used. It is suggested that its peak time is 30-60 minutes after use.
- GBL: a liquid with a chemical smell and taste. Some users report that GBL tastes like a solvent,similar to paint stripper or nail polish remover. GBL is a precursor to GHB, which means that it is converted to GHB when ingested.Some users report that GBL is more potent than GHB.
G is mainly taken orally in liquid form by mixing it with water or soft drinks. G is less often snorted, inhaled and injected. Injecting G is dangerous and not advisable
The effects will vary from person to person and will depend on how much is consumed. A euphoric dose for one person may be a sedative dose for another.
Some sought after effects:
• Relaxation & a sense of calm
• Increased sociability
• Greater confidence
• Disinhibition/sexual disinhibition (can make people do things they wouldn’t otherwise do)
• Increased sexual arousal
Some unwanted effects:
• Loss of body control - effects similar to alcohol which can last for several hours.
• Difficulty concentrating
• Come downs
• Loss of muscle control
• Audio and visual hallucinations
• Grogginess after use
The onset of withdrawal can begin 1-2 hours after the last dose and can progress rapidly. Withdrawal can last up to 12 days.
- Mild withdrawal symptoms include: anxiety; tremors; insomnia & vomiting; and high blood pressure.
- Moderate withdrawal symptoms include severe anxiety; confusion, delirium; feeling of skin crawling and hallucinations.
- Severe withdrawal symptoms include: agitation; paranoia and psychosis; muscle breakdown, seizures and death
G is physically addictive and dependence can develop very quickly or from regular use over a period of time. Dependence can mean that people will experience withdrawal symptoms on reduction or cessation of use, which can be severe or life threatening.
In certain situations, people may require inpatient treatment for G dependence. It is not advised that a person suddenly stops taking G themselves or attempts to self-detox. Withdrawal should be a slow,tapered process, with medical supervision of a doctor.
There is only a small difference in the dose required to produce the ‘desired effect’ and the dose which could result in an overdose. Therefore, it is very easy to overdose on G.
G has a delayed onset which means it can take longer than expected to kick in. An additional risk is that someone may take a dose, think nothing is happening, and then take another dose. This can lead to accidental overdose.
Common signs of overdose can include: confusion; vomiting; dizziness; seizure; temperature; agitation; hallucination; difficulty breathing and coma
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This content is from the 'G' collaborative campaign with sexual health services. Get more information about this campaign and support services at www.drugs.ie/ghb