GHB Addiction and Treatment Information

Springboard Recovery provides effective treatment for substance use & mental health disorders.

Evan Leonard MS, MMS, PA-C

Dr. Leonard is a Doctor of Medical Science and a clinical anatomist. He has practiced in both internal and emergency medicine and has published several, peer-reviewed articles and a medical book chapter.

GHB addiction can quickly take over a person’s entire life. This drug may not be as common as drugs like Ecstasy (MDMA), but it is still very much a part of the culture in the United States. Although many people use it unknowingly, there are those who abuse it for its psychoactive effects as a way to get high.
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Once this addiction grips a person’s life, it can be very difficult to stop using this drug. Substance abuse treatment can help by providing the level of support that is needed for recovery. People only need to be willing to get the help they need to stop using GHB successfully.

We want to help people become more aware of the dangers of GHB. They need to know about this drug’s effects and the risks involved with continued use. GHB addiction can be treated through detox, if necessary, and rehabilitation. The help people need to get off this drug is readily available.

What is GHB?

GHB is short for Gamma Hydroxybutyrate. This drug is a central nervous system depressant, but most people do not recognize it by either of those names. It is typically known as a club drug or as the “date rape drug.” Teens and young adults regularly abuse it at parties and clubs. It is popular at raves and is known to be placed in alcoholic beverages unbeknownst to the drinker.

In 2002, the FDA approved the brand name prescription drug, Xyrem for the purpose of treating narcolepsy. This is a sleep disorder that can cause people to feel sleepy or even fall asleep when they should be awake. Xyrem is actually the sodium salt of GHB, and this drug is highly regulated in our country as a Schedule III controlled substance. Anyone who takes it must be enrolled in a restricted access program.

GHB is naturally found in the human brain as well. It is a metabolite of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. But it is present in much lower concentrations in our brains. When this drug is being abused, the concentrations are typically much higher.

When GHB is sold on the streets, it is usually sold under one of many street names, which include:

  • G
  • Gina
  • Liquid X
  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • Liquid G
  • Georgia
  • Goop
  • Homeboy
  • 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 because the threshold between a dose that will cause euphoria and one that could be harmful is very small. Most people are very cautious when taking this drug and they measure out their dosages carefully.

GHB can be used in a few different ways. The most common way is to mix it into some type of drink, such as beer, another alcoholic beverage, or a soda. This drug can also be mixed with water or alcohol and injected into a vein, but this is quite rare and very dangerous. Sometimes GHB may come in a powder form, which people can snort. But this is also very rare.

This drug is most often used as a date rape drug, as we mentioned previously. It has become more common in clubs and bars in recent years. People will mix it into others’ drinks without their knowledge and later, take advantage of them sexually.

GHB is a drug that is manufactured for use on the street. It is often made in people’s homes using kits or recipes that they have purchased online. It is made by combining gamma-butyrolactone, or GBL with sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide. These ingredients are known drain cleaners and floor stripping solvents.

The ingredients of this drug are extremely dangerous, and if even one of them is off in any way, it could result in fatal consequences for 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, which include seizures and falling into a coma. When this drug is taken along 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 on a regular basis. Through continued abuse, they eventually find that they feel like they cannot live without it. There is no research indicating that it is physically addictive. But the psychological addiction can often be just as powerful, and even result in withdrawal when the drug is stopped.

There is a lot of misinformation online about GHB being a miracle drug. People believe that it can help with muscle growth, which is why many people – particularly body builders – start abusing it. They say that it can help with sleep and produce a euphoric high at the same time.

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.

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 demonstrate 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 in order to obtain 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?

When it comes to treating drug addiction, a professional approach is necessary to ensure that people get the help they need. Not everyone who is addicted to GHB will need to go through the detoxification process. But for some, it may be recommended or even required, based on some personal factors. But going to drug rehab is necessary for many reasons, 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:

  • Delirium
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • 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, with alcohol, or who also have untreated mental health conditions.

For someone in need of drug detox services, medical detox and holistic detox will probably be recommended. This would allow the person to take medications to help with their symptoms and also receive some holistic treatments that can assist in detoxing the body as well.

Going to drug rehab is extremely important for GHB addiction recovery to be successful. During rehabilitation, the focus is on treating the underlying cause of the substance abuse problem. Some people begin using this drug just because they liked how it made them feel, or they wanted to build muscle, as we mentioned previously. But others do so as a method of escaping mental health symptoms. For them, it is a way to self-medicate.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as 50% of those who go to rehab have a co-occurring disorder. This simply means that they have a mental health condition that is contributing to their substance abuse problems.

Co-occurring disorders must be addressed in order for addiction treatment to be effective. By utilizing dual diagnosis treatment, this can be accomplished because it treats both at the same time.

Our alcohol recovery program allows you to keep work and family commitments while focusing on your sobriety.

Choose SpringBoard Recovery for GHB Addiction Recovery

At SpringBoard Recovery, we never pass judgment on anyone for the types of drugs they use. We know that GHB is becoming more popular and some people are exposed to it without their knowledge. Others have been misled into thinking that it is a relatively safe, harmless drug when that is not the case at all.

We offer a high-quality drug treatment program for people who are addicted to GHB. Many of the clients we work with are also addicted to other drugs, and those substance abuse problems are addressed as well. The first step is to determine if detox is necessary. If it is, we will offer a referral for a local detoxification program we trust. Once their withdrawal symptoms are under control, they can return to our facility for additional treatment and support.

At SpringBoard Recovery, we offer many services to support people who are in recovery from GHB addiction. Our outpatient rehab program is among the best in the state. We recommend our intensive outpatient program for many people. Our IOP is very flexible, and people can still live at home, go to work or attend school while they participate in it.

Many of the people we work with struggle because of their living situations. They may live with other people who use drugs or alcohol, or they may be living in abusive environments. Our sober living services can provide them with the support they need. There are also people who get services from us from all over the country, and sober living is available for them as well.

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.