“Something that puts you into a coma is not something (most people) voluntarily do. Normal people don’t say, ‘I’m looking forward to my next coma.’ ”
~Alan Leshner, former Executive Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
GHB – What You Need to Know about “Liquid Ecstasy”
It’s been described as “easy to buy as a pizza”. GHB is openly, yet illicitly, sold online, misleadingly-labeled as “fish tank cleaner”, “ink stain remover”, or some other such product, albeit at a much higher price.
GHB is best known as a “date rape” drug, causing the victim to become incapacitated so they are unable to defend themselves. The amount of G taken and how tolerant someone becomes can turn this roofie into a party drug of dependency. The public has a lack of awareness when it comes to the liquid drug form of GHB being used recreationally for the rave and club scene. This is what might be the most disturbing part of liquid G. While heavily enforced as a date rape drug, nobody talks about the group of people that are abusing this addictive and deadly substance.
“Our 28 day rehab program deals with all types of addictions including GHB. Also, we accept many major health insurance plans.”
Also well known as liquid ecstasy or liquid G, like a lot of synthetic drugs, GHB occupies a specialized niche – it’s not as widely used as other illegal drugs, but it does have a small (and growing) core of aficionados who use it as a “club” drug due to the liquid G drug effects.
Club drugs are a small class of intoxicants that are so-named because they are used by people who frequent nightclubs, dance parties, and raves. Generally, they are used for their stimulant, aphrodisiac, and hallucinogenic effects.
What is GHB, and Why is it Nicknamed “Liquid Ecstasy”?
“GHB” is short for “gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid”. Medically, GHB is used to treat narcolepsy, while recreationally, it is used in small doses as a stimulant and known as G or liquid G. At higher doses, it is a central nervous system depressant.
Most illicit GHB is manufactured using industrial solvents such as floor strippers, drain cleaners, and other harmful chemicals. When it’s manufactured this way, there is no way to know what the dose is.
Users of GHB say its consumption promotes sociability and affection, enhances sexual pleasure, and deepens appreciation for the lights and music found in nightclubs and parties. This is why users will call it liquid ecstasy. Like X or ecstasy, G makes people feel more touchy-feely and they relax into a state of euphoria. The truth is, GHB is more sedative than ecstasy. By design, it is a potent relaxant that is meant to induce sleep. Some people may take real ecstasy to counteract the relaxing qualities liquid ecstasy produces.
It is because of these “social” effects that GHB is nicknamed “Liquid Ecstasy”, even though they are chemically and pharmacologically completely different. Other nicknames for GHB include:
- Liquid X
- Liquid Ecstasy
- Easy Lay
- Georgia Home Boy
- Grievous Bodily Harm
- Bedtime Scoop
- Cherry Meth
GHB can come as a white powder, a capsule, or a tablet, but is sold most often by the capful, as a colorless, odorless, virtually tasteless liquid drug that can be easily mixed a soft drink or cocktail. This is frequently done without the other person’s knowledge. The colorless, odorless and tastelessness of the liquid drug is what has made it such a danger to both men and women.
GHB and its Role as a Date Rape Drug
Date rape drugs will often be given to the victim without being detected. Although drug manufacturers of GHB have a dye incorporated into them, homemade lab versions will often be colorless, scentless, and tasteless. Whereas GHB is manufactured outside of the US with a specific dose, liquid ecstasy can be much more toxic. Liquid ecstasy will cause weakness and confusion. Some victims may pass out and at that point, they’re taken advantage of. Does liquid G show up on a drug test? It does but the reality is most people won’t get the test. For victims of any date rape drug, they usually have a hard time remembering what happened to them. Amnesia is a part of the symptoms of being drugged with GHB and other similar drugs.
How long does it take to get G out of your system? G will be detected in urine for just 12 hours which makes it hard for victims to get proof that they were drugged and assaulted. Liquid G metabolizes quickly and the greatest amount of liquid ecstasy is excreted just 2-4 hours after ingestion. The feeling of intoxication and sleepiness can last for up to eight hours.
This gives a victim a four-hour window of being sober enough to seek out a test to determine what’s happened to them. Usually, however, a terrible hangover occurs with GHB. This inhibits victims from organizing a trip to the doctor and getting a test. The temporary amnesia that comes with GHB and alcohol is a tragic part of the victimization that occurs.
When GHB is slipped into another person’s drink, several liquid G drug effects are felt by the victim:
- Increased libido
This combination of G effects leaves the victim vulnerable to sexual or violent assault, suggesting why GHB has earned some of its less-than-flattering nicknames.
What Are Some of the Other Liquid G Effects?
When GHB is taken voluntarily, the user may experience any or all of the following:
- Lessened anxiety
- Memory impairment
- Visual hallucinations
Some call GHB’s intoxicating, alcohol-like buzz “G-ber Daze”, and like the fact that they can get that sensation for a fraction of the cost of several cocktails. The gamma hydroxybutyrate price is dependent on location but it is considered a very cheap drug on the streets. It’s also possible to purchase online outside of the US.
G takes effect in as little as 15 to 30 minutes, and the effects last for up to six hours.
Does Liquid G Show Up on a Drug Test?
GHB is not part of the standard drug test when corporate jobs, schools, sports, or judicial associations are conducting them. There are extended drug tests also but still, they don’t test for GHB. There has been one account of an individual who was under the influence of GHB when they went for a standard drug test. He passed the test.
The detection period for GHB is very short. Almost all the metabolites will have left the body within a 24 hour period. The tests for GHB are costly because they are so uncommon. Liquid G won’t show up on a drug test and the likelihood of being tested for it with a very specific reason is very low.
Can someone experience GHB withdrawal?
GHB withdrawal is possible as the body can develop a tolerance. This can lead to the user taking higher doses as time goes by. If someone regularly uses G, it can take as little as 2 months to have a physiological dependence. This means that if you try to stop, you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms.
This can include:
There is a danger of abstaining from liquid ecstasy without professional addiction help. Regular users can experience severe withdrawal symptoms that can last for up to 14 days. For anyone with a dependency on GHB, it’s best to be admitted into an inpatient treatment facility. Everyone is different when it comes to how intense their withdrawal is. It depends a lot on how G was being used before abstinence.
If you use GHB every 2-3 hours, you will be at greater risk of severe side effects. How long does liquid G last? Withdrawal timelines for GHB indicate that symptoms may occur within 1-6 hours since the last dose. Usually, though, symptoms will begin about one day after the last use. The first symptoms will include vomiting and nervousness. This will ensue for about five days with other symptoms arising such as anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, and insomnia. These symptoms will last for up to 2 weeks. Other symptoms may occur for months since the detox. This includes:
- Cognitive problems (confusion, aggression, forgetfulness)
Taking GHB Concurrently with Other Substances
As GHB is a central nervous system depressant, it can cause major side effects when mixed with drinks or other drugs. When you mix opioids, drugs like ketamine, or alcohol with G, you are at greater risk of suffering from amnesia or slipping into a coma. The risk of overdose is much higher also.
Alcohol or other depressants, when mixed with GHB can be extremely dangerous as they can lead to respiratory failure or even death. While it is common to mix the two, it is highly recommended that you don’t.
If you mix crystal meth with liquid ecstasy, you will have a libido for longer. People who are involved in “chemsex” find this to be a popular mix. The problem is that due to the strong libido and dissociative effects of GHB, risky sex is more prevalent. Behavioral effects and physical effects include psychotic symptoms and paranoia.
Ketamine is also potentially deadly along with antihistamines and pain medications. As far as ketamine goes, as a hallucinogen, it is already an unpredictable drug when it comes to how it might affect the user. GHB and ketamine are both a dissociative class of hallucinogens. They both disconnect the brain and body communications. This is why users will enter the hallucinogen state. The trips can be much wilder and there is a higher potential for dangerous side effects.
What Are Some of The Physical Side Effects and Dangers of G?
GHB has a profound effect on the body, ranging from unpleasant at low doses to dangerous and even deadly at high doses:
- Excessive sweating
- Slurred speech
- Slowed heartbeat
- Severe respiratory depression
- Liver failure
- Kidney damage
- Liquid G overdose – the symptoms of a GHB overdose will include vomiting, shallow breathing, agitation, hallucinations, seizures, and blackouts for hours. Death through liquid G overdose often happens because it can appear the person has gone to sleep when they’re actually unconscious and aren’t breathing.
- Death – The vast majority of deaths are due to cardiorespiratory arrest, and more than a third occur even in the absence of a co-intoxicant.
It is important to remember that illicit GHB can be “homemade”, meaning different batches can vary widely in terms of purity, potency, and even content. Obviously, that would mean that the effects felt after every use would also be unpredictable.
In other words, GHB users are putting their lives in the hands of “kitchen chemists”.
Liquid G Methods of Abuse
There are a few ways that liquid G is abused. It can be combined with alcohol to cause someone to lose their capacity to function properly. This is the perfect sage way for sexual assaults. Alcohol and liquid ecstasy are also knowingly combined within the rave or club scene. It is often teens or young adults attending college that are abusing liquid G.
It is possible to inject GHB but that usually isn’t something that teens or young adults are interested in. As GHB is a carbohydrate molecule, it would burn and become inactivated if you tried to smoke it. Snorting is also not effective.
GHB has anabolic effects caused by protein synthesis. This is why bodybuilders will use it. GHB can build muscles and also reduce fat.
GHB can be bought on the streets quite easily or on the internet. The options are liquid drugs or white powder. These are the types of GHB that are for illicit use. Often taken orally, it will be combined with alcohol. In illegal labs where GHB is produced, they will often use lye or drain cleaner mixed with GHB. While GHB is medically used for narcolepsy, GBL is used as a stain remover, paint stripper and other types of strong chemicals. GBL effects on the body are similar to GHB which include euphoria, lack of inhibitions and drowsiness. It can also be extremely toxic and dangerous.
Is GHB an Addictive Substance?
The withdrawal symptoms of GHB indicates just how addictive it can be. Although GHB, GBL and liquid ecstasy aren’t as dangerous as those felt by people detoxifying from benzodiazepines or alcohol, GHB withdrawal symptoms can be harshly unpleasant. Part of the Liquid G drug effects is dependency and when you abstain from using, you may experience the following:
- Profuse sweating
- Extreme agitation
- Prolonged delirium
- Severe psychosis and agitation, often requiring sedation, restraints, and other self-protection measures.
What Should I Do If I or Someone Else I Care about Is Addicted to Liquid Ecstasy?
GHB abuse is a serious illness that could be potentially life-threatening. Withdrawal from GHB is so severe as to make it a virtual impossibility that a person will be able to quit on their own. Professional help is always needed, usually in the form of medically-supervised drug detoxification and residential treatment.
GHB addicts need structure, professional care, and long-term aftercare and support if they are to successive return to a safe, productive, and sober lifestyle. They need detox and the education that comes from rehabilitation. It takes time to overcome dependency and GHB effects. Depression and anxiety are often problems that will stay with someone for months after stopping GHB. With the knowledge of why this is happening to the user, it’s easier to stay clean and recover fully.
Dr. H. Wesley Clarke, former Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, has said, “As a physician, I can’t say if you take it you’re going to fall over dead, but I can say you’re playing Russian Roulette. Do you feel lucky, as Clint Eastwood would say?”