Once a person gets addicted to GHB, it can be hard to stop using it. Substance abuse treatment is an option to provide the support needed for recovery. If a person wants to change they can be successful in the treatment of GHB addiction.
At Modern Recovery, the goal is to help people understand the dangers of GHB. We want to educate people who regularly abuse this drug so they understand the effects and risks that go along with it.
Drug detox is often the first step in treating GHB addiction. After detoxing, people should plan to go to a rehabilitation program. If a person is ready to stop using GHB, there is help available to take that first step.
What is GHB?
GHB is short for Gamma Hydroxybutyrate. This drug is a central nervous system depressant. It is known as a club drug or as the “date rape drug.” Teens and young adults abuse it at parties and clubs. It is popular at raves and can be placed in alcoholic beverages unbeknownst to the drinker.
In 2002, the FDA approved the brand-name prescription drug, Xyrem to treat narcolepsy. This is a sleep disorder that can cause people to feel sleepy or even fall asleep when awake. Xyrem is the sodium salt of GHB. This drug is regulated in our country as a Schedule III controlled substance. Anyone who takes it is enrolled in a restricted access program.
The drug known as GHB is also found in the human brain naturally, but at a much lower concentration. It can be found as a metabolite of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. When a person uses GHB habitually, its concentrations are typically much higher in the body.
When GHB is sold on the streets, it is usually sold under one of many street names, which include:
- Liquid X
- Liquid Ecstasy
- Liquid G
- Easy Lay
- Grievous Bodily Harm
GHB is often used by party-goers to help them relax and have a good time. Overdosing on this drug is common. The threshold between a dose that will cause euphoria and one that could be harmful is very small. For this reason, those who use the drug are very careful when using and measure their dosage carefully.
GHB can be used in many different ways. It is typically used in drinks. A person will mix it in some type of drink like beer, another alcoholic beverage, or a soda. Some people take GHB intravenously by mixing it with water or alcohol. This is not common, but it is dangerous for those who use this method of administration. GHB can be found in powder form, and some people will snort it into their nasal passages, which is also rare, but it does happen.
This drug is most often used as a date rape drug, as we mentioned before. It has become more common in clubs and bars in recent years. People will mix it into others’ drinks without their knowledge. After the person has finished the drink they will later, take advantage of them sexually.
GHB is a drug that is manufactured for sale and use. Some people make GHB in their houses by purchasing kits and recipes online. It is made by mixing gamma-butyrolactone with sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide. These ingredients are also used in drain cleaners and floor stripping solvents.
GHB is made with ingredients that are very dangerous for the human body. The consequences of a mixture of GHB can be fatal to the user.
The Effects of GHB
The side effects of GHB are dangerous enough themselves. But this is a drug that is often mixed with alcohol when it is taken, so those effects are multiplied even more.
After just one use of GHB, the person could experience significant side effects, such as:
- Vision problems.
- Feelings of relaxation.
- Feelings of drowsiness.
- Dizziness or vertigo.
- A heightened sense of sensuality.
- Memory loss.
- Excessive sweating.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Blackouts and a loss of consciousness.
- Slower heart rate than normal.
- Reduced inhibitions.
Some people will even have severe side effects. The side effects include seizures and falling into a coma. When this drug is mixed with alcohol, breathing issues and even death can occur.
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How do People Get Addicted to GHB?
People who get addicted to GHB take this drug regularly. Through continued abuse, they find that they feel like they cannot live without it. There is no research indicating that it is physically addictive, but a psychological addiction can be just as powerful. It can even result in withdrawal when stopped.
There is a lot of false information out there that causes people to think that GHB can help them with certain physical issues. For example, some people believe that it can help with muscle growth. This is why many people – particularly bodybuilders – start abusing it. Also, people think it produces a euphoric high and helps with sleep.
There is no way of telling how long it might take a person to get addicted to GHB. It can happen as quickly as a few weeks after continued use starts, or as long as several months.
Signs of GHB Addiction
Once a person is addicted to GHB, the drug takes over their life. They may find it difficult to think about anything else and may spend much of their time getting high.
Some of the signs of GHB addiction include:
- Loss of muscle tone in the body.
- Loss of muscle control.
- Frequent hallucinations.
- Ongoing nausea.
- Breathing problems.
- Slurred speech.
- Brain fog.
- Drowsiness and sleepiness.
People who are addicted to GHB may also show many of the following general signs of addiction:
- They may be in denial that they have a substance abuse problem that needs addressing.
- They may refuse to get help for their addiction even if it is causing them to have serious medical problems.
- They may take dangerous risks to get their drug of choice.
- They may use the drug as a way to deal with their problems.
- They may not be able to stop using even if they have a strong desire to recover.
- They may isolate themselves from others and only use GHB in secret.
- They may legal or financial problems.
- They may experience withdrawal symptoms once the drug is no longer in their systems.
Who is at Risk for Forming an Addiction to GHB?
There are certain groups of people who could be at a higher risk for getting addicted to GHB than others. For example:
- People who have a history of substance abuse and addiction could be at a higher risk.
- People who have family histories of addiction could be at a higher risk.
- People who have any type of mental health condition are more at risk of abusing and getting addicted to GHB.
- People who are around this drug consistently are more at risk.
- People who have a history of traumatic events have a higher risk.
Recovering from GHB Addiction: Are Detox and Rehab Required?
A professional approach is helpful for people when treating drug addiction. If a person has an addiction to GHB they might not need to go through the detoxification process unless the medical staff believes that detoxing will be beneficial. The recommendation will be based on various personal factors. Going to drug rehab is helpful on a lot of levels, which we will cover below.
Drug detox refers to the process of eliminating a substance from the body. It takes some time, but it is worth it because of how it can help with withdrawal symptoms. Some common GHB withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Rapid heart rate
There are a few factors that can affect the severity of a person’s GHB withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be worse for those who are using this drug daily when used with alcohol. Also, withdrawal can be difficult because of untreated mental health conditions.
If detox is needed, medical detox and holistic detox will be recommended. This allows the person to take medications to help with their symptoms. It will also allow someone to receive holistic treatments to assist in detoxing the body as well.
Going to drug rehab is extremely important to success for GHB addiction recovery. During rehabilitation, the focus is on treating the underlying cause of the problem. Some people begin using this drug just because they liked how it made them feel. Some people just wanted to build muscle. But others do so as a method of escaping their mental health symptoms. For them, it is a way to self-medicate.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that as many as 50% of those in rehab have a co-occurring disorder. This means they have a mental health condition is contributing to their substance abuse problem.
Learn More About GHB Addiction, Treatment and the Healing Process
Recovering from a GHB addiction may be the most difficult challenge a person ever takes on. But it is also a goal that can be accomplished with the right type of help. So many people believe that once they get addicted to a drug, they will never able to stop using it. We want them to see that this is not true, and professional support can make a difference.
GHB is a highly potent, powerful and dangerous drug. It is worth it to take the time to consider getting addiction treatment.
Would you like to know more about GHB addiction and your recovery options? If so, we can help you. Please contact us today.
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration: https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/ghb-gamma-hydroxybutyric-acid
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasymolly
- Drugs.com: https://www.drugs.com/illicit/ghb.html
- FDA: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/xyrem-sodium-oxybate-information
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594160/
- Drug Enforcement Administration: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/ghb.pdf
- FRANK: https://www.talktofrank.com/drug/ghb#how-do-people-take-it
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://archives.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/what-are-date-rape-drugs-and-how-do-you-avoid-them
- Partnership to End Addiction: https://drugfree.org/drugs/ghb/#:~:text=GHB%20is%20often%20manufactured%20in,stripping%20solvents%20and%20drain%20cleaners.
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2911496/
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354400/
- Thrillist: https://www.thrillist.com/health/nation/does-ghb-help-you-build-muscle
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2630388/
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/comorbidity-substance-use-other-mental-disorders