What is GHB? A Brief History on One of America’s Fave Club Drugs
Gamma hydroxybutyrate – commonly known as GHB – is considered by many to be a super fun club drug that makes for one hell of a party. It is also known for something else – date rape. But, GHB didn’t always have the reputation it has today. In fact, until the FDA banned the stuff in 1990, GHB was a legal substance in the United States used for medicinal purposes.
GHB is a clear liquid that looks just like water. It is tasteless and odorless, although some say GHB has a somewhat soapy taste. In the 1960’s, the drug was synthesized and used as an anesthetic, although doctors soon regarded it as largely ineffective and moved on to other, more powerful substances that could be used as analgesics. In the 1970’s, GHB was recommended for the treatment of narcolepsy, though its negative side effects outweighed the benefits. The use of GHB began to increase in the 1980’s when it was sold as a fat burner and performance enhancer. Athletes and bodybuilders started swearing by the stuff, saying it gave them a boost. Ultimately, after more than 30 GHB-related deaths were reported, the FDA declared the chemical unfit for human consumption and banned it in the U.S.
Today, GHB is made in street labs and sold on the black market. Although it has gained notoriety as a club drug used by young people in the 18 to 25-year-old age group at raves, clubs, and parties, it has also gotten a bad reputation as the infamous date rape drug. GHB is regarded as the “poor man’s heroin” and sold for about five dollars a dose. This drug is most commonly used for two purposes – to get high and have a good time or to render some unsuspecting victim unconscious for the purpose of non-consensual sex. However; some body-builders and athletes still use GHB illegally as a performance-enhancing drug.
There are a number of different “recipes” used to create the chemical makeup that produces the GHB people are interested in buying to catch a buzz, commit date rape, or get buff in the gym. Because users never know what they are buying when they purchase the stuff on the street, buying a bad batch is always a possibility. In no uncertain terms, GHB is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Street Names for GHB
GHB is known by many names. Here are just a few:
- Georgia Homeboy
- Liquid Ecstasy
- Liquid E
- Poor man’s heroin
The ABCs and 123s of GHB
Most people would argue that GHB is an unlikely source of addiction. You might expect people to be addicted to drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, or opiates like Oxycodone or Hydrocodone. But GHB? Why are people addicted to GHB? Why are people abusing G in record numbers? Shouldn’t G be the kind of drug you take once in awhile just for kicks and then move on with your life? Let’s take a closer look and see what answers we can come up with.
GHB is a highly toxic, dangerous and volatile substance. It is also highly addictive by design. GHB is a cheap high that many people compare to a mild heroin buzz or a low-grade ecstasy trip. Its works by depressing the central nervous system and creating a sensation where the mind and body feel as if they are slowing down. Although the drug acts as a kind of sedative, it also creates a euphoric effect. This causes people to want to move around in a sort of trace-like state. This is why Georgia homeboy is so popular at raves and clubs – people say it just makes them want to get up and dance.
G is usually sold as a liquid that is ingested, although it can also be sold as a white crystalline powder that looks like cocaine. No matter which way it is marketed, jib is ultimately diluted in a beverage and swallowed. Although plenty of people have tried it, jib is not supposed to be snorted or injected.
GHB is relatively easy to make. It is manufactured in street labs by people who have almost no knowledge of chemistry. You want to know how G is concocted? By combining common household products. You want to know what those household products are? You won’t believe it – cleaning agents, paint strippers, superglue remover, rust removers, and all manner of harsh, toxic chemicals. Scary. Dangerous. Deadly.
GHB is big business. Even though the stuff sells for just five bucks a pop, you might be surprised to learn that the investment of about $800 in materials can produce enough GHB to turn a profit of almost $100,000. That’s truly mind-blowing when you think about it. It’s no wonder dealers are looking to push the stuff on unsuspecting young people. It’s fast cash.
One dose of G usually lasts about 2-3 hours. On an average night, users will usually take several doses of GHB to “keep the party going.” Generally, when G users take the drug, they stay up all night on the stuff. Then, they crash, sleeping the entire next day to avoid the depressive state the come down inevitably brings.
GHB – A Date Rape Drug of Choice in the Modern Era
When taken in high doses, GHB acts as a powerful sedative that can cause a person to lose consciousness. It also causes incredible memory loss. This means a person who takes GHB can lose entire blocks of time and not remember anything that happened while they were under its influence. This is why G is so effective when used as a date rape drug.
There have been thousands of cases reported (and an untold number of unreported cases) of date rape incidents related to GHB. What happens is the perpetrator pours GHB in their victim’s drink. Then, powerless to the drug’s effects, the victim is assaulted. Sadly, the victim doesn’t remember the attack the next day, or only remembers bits and pieces of the event. Usually, the case goes unreported. GHB is especially popular as a date rape on college campuses across the United States.
Some Surprising Statistics on GHB
Although GHB is sweeping the nation, many people have still never heard of GHB, seen it, taken it, or been exposed to it in any way. But make no mistake about it – just because you haven’t stumbled upon GHB doesn’t mean the drug isn’t out there doing its thang. Liquid E is quite popular and has already made international headlines for causing the untimely death of thousands of club-goers. The death statistics on GHB are actually quite stunning.
Here are nine fast facts about GHB:
- GHB is a Schedule I drug and considered highly addictive.
- Withdrawal from G can start as early as three hours after taking the last dose of the drug.
- Detoxing off Jib can take as long as two weeks.
- There have been approximately 16,000 GHB-related deaths reported in the United States.
- Young women between ages 16 and 24 are four times more likely to be slipped GHB without their knowledge (and potentially raped) than any other age group.
- Liquid E is sold for about $5 a dose in small shampoo bottles.
- Children as young as age 12 are experimenting with GHB.
- GHB is primarily taken by teenagers and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.
- Alcohol and GHB are a lethal combination. More than 75 percent of all GHB-related emergency room visits also involve alcohol.
What are the Risks and Potential Negative Side Effects When Taking GHB?
Sure, GHB might make you feel good for awhile, but if you’ve ever taken Georgia homeboy, you probably already know that taking this drug doesn’t always make for a good time.
Here are some of the negative side effects associated with GHB:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Dizziness or feeling like the room is spinning
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of muscle control
- The inability to move
- Blurred vision or black spots
- Loss of consciousness or black out
- Total memory loss of events that occurred while on GHB
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory failure
- Slowed heart rate
- Lowered blood pressure
- Tremors or shaking
- Profuse sweating
- Sudden death
The 12 Steps – The Solution to Every Addiction Problem
If you’re abusing GHB, let’s get real for a minute. You’re ingesting toxic chemicals on a regular basis. Seriously – you are drinking household cleaners and stuff that was designed to dissolve rust. Just think for a second about what that stuff is doing to your insides. Physically, G is killing you…..one dose at a time. Every time you swallow a cap full of GHB, you are putting your life at risk. You could have a seizure. You could go into a coma. You could die. Is this really how you want your story to end?
If you’re one of those addicts who has the “it won’t happen to me mentality,” then let’s look at your GHB abuse from a different perspective. Okay, so you aren’t going to die. You’re going to live. Great news! But, is this truly how you want to live your life? If you’re addicted to G, ask yourself – are you powerless over your addiction? Has your life become unmanageable?
The abuse of GHB will cause your life to continue to spin out of control. It will cause you to do things you regret (if it hasn’t already). G will have you in a perpetual cycle of more, more, more. This is the cycle of addiction. Do you want to continue to go on like this? Or, do you want to find a new way to live? If you are struggling with an addiction to GHB, we recommend getting the 12 steps in your life. Although there is not a program that specifically targets GHB users, Narcotics Anonymous offers healing and hope for people of all walks of life who are battling an addiction to a variety of drugs. The 12 Steps are the roadmap to recovery.
Believe it or not, you can enjoy life when you’re sober. There are plenty of super fun things to do in this life that do not involve the use of drugs or alcohol. People who attend 12-step meetings know what it’s like to be addicted. They also know what it’s like to celebrate freedom from addiction. Why not check out a meeting tonight instead of drinking rust remover?
Have you ever abused GHB? What’s your story?
Drugs.com. (n.d.) GHB. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/illicit/ghb.html.
Women’s Health. (2017, April). Date Rape Drugs. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/date-rape-drugs.
Heath Research Funding. (2015, February). 17 Remarkable GHB Death Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/date-rape-drugs.