Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB): Origin, Uses, Side Effects

Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate

Common Street Names: Liquid ecstasy, G, soap, forget pill, scoop, fishies, blue nitro, juice, date rape drug, club drug, La Rocha, Rope/Roapies, Roach/Roaches/Roachies.

Brand Names: Xyrem (sodium oxybate)

Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a naturally occurring chemical produced by the body in small quantities. The chemical first came to light in the 1920s when it was synthesised as a Central nervous system depressant.

The powerful depressant effectively slows down the nervous system’s activity, thereby assisting in setting aside feelings of euphoria and hallucinations. This property promoted its use as an anaesthetic agent in the 1960s.

General Use of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

Studies show that gamma-hydroxybutyrate binds to the inhibitory GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors, resulting in a depressing effect.

Sexual assaulters mix it with alcohol and give the combination to victims prior to assaults. The drug’s sedative effect makes one incapable of resisting; therefore, the name rape drug.

It also has the capability to induce memory loss (amnesia).

Medical Use of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate

Narcolepsy

Doctors usually prescribes gamma-hydroxybutyrate to treat narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness). As per research, gamma-hydroxybutyrate effectively improves symptoms of daytime sleepiness and thereby enhances the quality of life. It promotes sleep during the night, thus, reducing sleepiness during the day.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Giving up on the habit of drinking can be difficult emotionally and physically. Chronic drinkers have a hard time giving up alcohol due to withdrawal symptoms. GHB in the form of sodium oxybate has shown promising results in the management of Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS).

Xyrem is beneficial in preventing relapse in alcoholic patients.

Substance Abuse

This drug can help treat patients with substance abuse (opioid drugs such as heroin and morphine, etc.).

Limited evidence suggests that gamma-hydroxybutyric acid can work to improve the following conditions as well:

Athletes are also seen taking drugs in an attempt to increase endurance and muscle strength.

How To Identify GHB

The drug is primarily available on the streets as a clear liquid or a white powder. Legally the drug is available as a sodium salt of GHB (sodium oxybate) under the name Xyrem.

Side Effects

The drug is safe when taken legally and in the right amounts. However, there needs to be good medical supervision during the drug administration.

Abusing the drug can land you in a lot of trouble. It can lead to simple non-serious and serious, life-threatening side effects. Non-serious side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, and confusion.

Serious complications that have led to the banning of this drug include

An overdose may even lead to death by respiratory depression. Long-term drug usage is linked to addiction and causes a withdrawal effect when stopped.

Final Remarks

Gamma hydroxybutyrate is a naturally occurring chemical that came to attention in the 1920s. It is a potent CNS depressant that was initially used as an athletic performance booster and an anaesthetic. The drug is a colourless and odourless substance available in powder and liquid forms known by street names of soap, roadies, and fishies. It is frequently misused as a date rape drug.

Legally, the drug is present as sodium oxybate (Xyrem) and finds its use in treating narcolepsy and drug/alcohol withdrawal syndrome. GHB is very addictive and can cause serious side effects such as reduced heart/breathing rate, confusion, coma, and even death.

If you are just learning about this illicit substance, please be advised that it is extremely difficult to detect this in the workplace. This is because, at this point, there are no urine drug tests certified to Australian standards that will detect GHB on its own. However, the presence of GHB can be detected by various drug detection kits available when it is used with other illegal substances.

So, how can you detect GHB? This is where Australia Drug Testing can help you navigate and understand the complexities of GHB and its testing within the workplace. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our role in eliminating substance abuse in the workplace.

FAQs

It is a colourless and odourless powder/liquid that slows down the central nervous system. It is mixed with alcohol to sedate the sexual assault victims heavily. Therefore, it is commonly known as the date rape drug.

Gamma hydroxybutyrate is given under strict medical supervision to cure the following ailments:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (narcolepsy)
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS),
  • Substance abuse.

Some athletes also use it to strengthen the muscles and boost athletic performance.

GHB is known by different street names, including cherry meth, liquid ecstasy, soap, roapies, roachies, G, juice, blue nitro, fishies, date rape drug, party drug, La Rocha, etc.

GHB is metabolised into GABA inside the body, which binds to the GABA receptors. However, GHB is not an agonist of GABA.

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