Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)

GHB (Date-Rape) Drug Charges Defense Attorneys, Monmouth, Mercer, Union, Middlesex, and Ocean County, NJ

Drug Information About Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)

Brand names:  Xyrem

Street names: G, Liquid X, Liquid E, Gamma-o, Date-Rape Drug

Classification: GHB is a Schedule I substance in the US with no recognized medical use or value. The drug Xyrem, containing GHB, is Schedule III since it is an orphan drug, prescribed for a rare medical condition that affects a small percentage of the population.

The “Date-Rape” Drug

GHB is a sedative used as a recreational intoxicant and as a sleep aid. It is naturally occurring component found in human cells and in substances like wine. GHB is most commonly taken in liquid form like alcohol recreationally, though it has gained notoriety for its use on unsuspecting individuals as a date-rape drug. This is because the recreational dosage range is very narrow, and even a small overdoses can cause a type of coma leaving the user unconscious and unrousable.

Since the drug often comes in the form of an odorless, colorless liquid slipped into peoples drinks or otherwise administered secretively. Mixing GHB with alcohol or other depressants is extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening.


GHB exists as a chemical salt, though it is most commonly found dissolved in water for oral consumption. This makes it impossible to determine the dosage of GHB in any amount of water (the amount of water is irrelevant – 1 gram of GHB salt can be dissolved into as little as 1 ml of liquid), and dosage information comes exclusively the source, often unreliable drug dealers or others with poor information or bad intentions. Similar drugs, GBL and 1,4B turn into GHB when metabolized by the body, and are often sold as equivalents to GHB in clubs or other social gatherings.

Physical Effects

The effects of GHB are effected by how recently one has eaten, one’s body weight, and simply one’s reaction to the chemical. Low doses typically produce effects similar to low doses of alcohol. These include relaxation, sociability, dizziness, and limited motor skills. Higher doses increase the relaxing effects but also contribute to physical disequilibrium. Positive mood changes are common, though accompanied by slurred speech and incoherency. Many report nausea and grogginess. Heavy doses of GHB may increase feelings of euphoria, but the line between heavy dose and overdose is very thin and as little as a quarter gram can mean the difference between euphoria and physical illness.

GHB Overdose

Overdosing on GHB is common because the drug has such a sharp dosage-response curve, which is difficult to account for in conjunction with the inexact quantities available in clubs and on the street. Mixing alcohol and GHB also substantially increases the risks of overdosing on GHB. Overdose symptoms generally consist of extreme dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. This is accompanied by severe drowsiness and unconsciousness from which the user may be unrousable for several hours. Other overdose symptoms include slow breathing, twitching or convulsions, fixed pupils, and complete unresponsiveness to pain. These conditions are potentially life threatening and warrant immediate medical attention from a professional. The fact that GHB produces vomiting and unconsciousness is especially dangerous, since users vomiting while laying on their back risk inhalation of vomit, which can cause suffocation and lung damage. People who are unconscious and vomiting should be turned on their side and constantly monitored until help arrives.

Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms

GHB is habit-forming and physically addictive. Frequent users report needing more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect, and heavy use has been reported to addiction with severe withdrawal symptoms when use was discontinued. These include intense anxiety and insomnia, increased heart rate, chest pain, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. Some users have also experienced psychological symptoms during withdrawal such as delirium and hallucinations.