Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, is a psychoactive drug that naturally occurs in the brain as a neurotransmitter. It has been used medically as an anesthetic and for treatment of narcolepsy. When used recreationally, users report effects similar to alcohol or MDMA and, like MDMA, it is often used in clubs and at raves. In rat studies, GHB has shown to be habit forming, and some users report feeling withdrawal symptoms after stopping use.Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid
Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid or γ-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), also known as 4-hydroxybutanoic acid, is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter and a psychoactive drug. It is a precursor to GABA, glutamate, and glycine in certain brain areas. It acts on the GHB receptor and is a weak agonist at the GABAB receptor. GHB has been used in the medical setting as a general anesthetic and as a treatment for cataplexy, narcolepsy, and alcoholism.] It is also used illegally as an intoxicant, as an athletic performance enhancer, as a date rape drug and as a recreational drug.
It is commonly used in the form of a salt, such as sodium γ-hydroxybutyrate (NaGHB, sodium oxybate, or Xyrem) or potassium γ-hydroxybutyrate (KGHB, potassium oxybate). GHB is also produced as a result of fermentation, and is found in small quantities in some beers and wines, beef and small citrus fruits..
GHB is a central nervous system depressant used as an intoxicant. It has many street names. Its effects have been described anecdotally as comparable with ethanol (alcohol) and MDMA use, such as euphoria, disinhibition, enhanced libido and empathogenic states. A review comparing ethanol to GHB conclued that the dangers of the two drugs were similar. At higher doses, GHB may induce nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, agitation, visual disturbances, depressed breathing, amnesia, unconsciousness, and death. One potential cause of death from GHB consumption is polydrug toxicity. Co-administration with other CNS depressants such as alcohol or benzodiazepines can result in an additive effect (potentiation), as they all bind to gamma-aminobutyric acid (or “GABA”) receptor sites. The effects of GHB can last from 1.5 to 4 hours, or longer if large doses have been consumed.Consuming GHB with alcohol can cause respiratory arrest and vomiting in combination with unrousable sleep, which can contribute to a lethal outcome.
Recreational doses of 1–2 g generally provide a feeling of euphoria, and larger doses create deleterious effects such as reduced motor function and drowsiness. The sodium salt of GHB has a salty taste. Other salt forms such as calcium GHB and magnesium GHB have also been reported, but the sodium salt is by far the most common.
Some prodrugs, such as γ-butyrolactone (GBL), convert to GHB in the stomach and blood stream. Other prodrugs, such as 1,4-butanediol (1,4-B), have their own toxicity concerns. GBL and 1,4-B are normally found as pure liquids, but they can be mixed with other more harmful solvents when intended for industrial use (e.g. as paint stripper or varnish thinner).
GHB can be manufactured with little knowledge of chemistry, as it involves the mixing of its two precursors, GBL and an alkali hydroxide such as sodium hydroxide, to form the GHB salt. Due to the ease of manufacture and the availability of its precursors, it is not usually produced in illicit laboratories like other synthetic drugs, but in private homes by low-level producers.
GHB is “colourless and odourless”