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GHB/GBL

Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid better known as GHB is a naturally-occurring substance found in the central nervous system, wine, beef, small citrus fruits.

GHB has been used in a medical setting as a general anesthetic, to treat conditions such as insomnia, clinical depression, narcolepsy, and alcoholism, and to improve athletic performance. It is also used as an intoxicant (illegally in many jurisdictions) or as a date rape drug.

Synthesis of the chemical GHB was first reported in 1874 by Alexander Zaytsev, but the first major research into its use in humans was conducted in the early 1960s by Dr. Henri Laborit to use in studying neurotransmitters. DMT found use due to its minimal side-effects and short duration of action, the only difficulties being the narrow therapeutic dosage range and the dangers presented by its combination with alcohol and other depressants.

The only common medical applications for GHB today are in the treatment of narcolepsy and more rarely alcoholism.

GHB is a CNS depressant used as an intoxicant. It has many street names, including "Liquid Ecstasy", "Liquid X", and "Liquid G", as well as "Fantasy". At recreational doses, GHB can cause a state of euphoria, increased enjoyment of movement and music, increased libido, increased sociability and intoxication. At higher doses, GHB may induce nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, agitation, visual disturbances, depressed breathing, amnesia, unconsciousness, and death. The effects of GHB can last from 1.5 to 3 hours, or even longer if large doses have been consumed or if it is mixed with alcohol.

In general, the doses of GHB used recreationally are between 500 mg and 3000 mg. When used as a recreational drug, GHB may be found as the sodium or potassium salt, which is a white crystalline powder, or as GHB salt dissolved in water to form a clear solution. The sodium salt of GHB has a thin, very salty, chemical taste.

Since the 1970s club scene, club-goers have used a range of drugs to enhance their experience on the dance floor such as amyl nitrite "poppers" and cocaine; in the 1990s, newer "club drugs" became popular, such as ketamine and Ecstasy (MDMA). Like these other "club drugs," GHB is taken because users feel that it enhances the experience of being in a club or at a party; small doses of GHB are thought to act as a stimulant and aphrodisiac. GHB is sometimes referred to as liquid ecstasy or liquid X due to its tendency to produce euphoria and sociability and its use in the dance party scene. Despite this nickname, GHB is not related to actual Ecstasy (MDMA), either in chemical form or pharmacological form.

The drug has been identified as a date rape drug, much the same way as alcohol and Rohypnol. However it is difficult to establish how often GHB is used to facilitate rape as it is difficult to detect in a urine sample after a day, and many victims may not recall the rape until some time after this. However cases of GHB being used as a date rape drug is quite rare.

Physical dependence develops to GHB when it is taken on a regular basis (i.e., every 24 hours for multiple consecutive days or weeks). Withdrawal effects may include insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, tremors, sweating, loss of appetite, edginess, tachycardia, chest pain and tightness, muscle and bone aches, sensitivity to external stimuli (sound, light, touch), dysphoria, and mental dullness. These side-effects will subside after 2 21 days, depending on frequency of usage and the size of the doses used.

Death while using GHB is more likely when it is combined with alcohol or other depressant drugs; however, an overdose of GHB alone may be lethal. A review of the details of 194 deaths attributed to or related to GHB over a ten-year period found that most were from respiratory depression caused by interaction with alcohol or other drugs; several were from choking on vomit and asphyxiating; remaining causes of death included motor vehicle and other accidents.

In the UK it was made a class C drug in June 2003.


 
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