Chemical name: Gamma hydroxy butyrate.

Legitimate use
It has been used for the purposes of anaesthesia, the study of epilepsy, and is occasionally used (in Europe) for treatment of narcolepsy and alcoholism (Okun, Boothby, and Bartfield, Doering 2001).

What does it look like?
GHB usually comes as an odourless liquid with a salty or bitter taste. More often than not, it comes in small bottles or vials. There is some claim that that GHB comes in powder and capsule form. Most people consume it by mixing it with a beverage like water, pop, or juice. We have no idea what a recreational dose is and would not dream of making any recommendation as to what an appropriate dose looks like. Given the high dose-response curve, the idiosyncrasies of your body's metabolism (including what you just ate), and the problem with not knowing the concentration of the drug you have in your hand, a "recreational dose" is likely to change constantly. Just because it's sold in vials doesn't mean that a vial is a dose. In fact, taking the contents of an entire vial is probably something you should consider not doing.

What else is it called?
We've only heard it called "G" or "GHB" but others report hearing it referred to has "liquid ecstasy".

What can it be cut with?
We've haven't come across reports of GHB being adulterated. It seems that GHB is usually just GHB or something chemically related to GH. But since it is a clear liquid, it could be mixed with any other liquid substance and you are unlikely to know.

Important related information:
Liquids commonly referred to as "G" may actually be one of several different substances somewhat similar in GHB: GBL (gamma-butyrolactone), GHV (gamma-hydroxyvalerate), or "BD" (1,4-butanediol). All these substances produce similar effects when ingested, but there are some important differences between them that may increase risk of overdose.

GBL is a pro-drug, a substance that is converted to GHB in the human body. It has the same physical effect as GHB. GBL is available on the market and may be known by these names: Renutrient, Renewtrient, Revivarant, GH Revitalizer or GHR, Blue Nitro, Blue Nitro Vitality, Remforce, Gamma G. "B" is also a chemical that is converted into GHB when consumed. What's important to know about GBL is that it is more potent than GHB and takes longer for your body to metabolize (Kohrs and Porter 1999). If you use these drugs, take the time to educate yourself about the risks. Do what you can to be sure about the identity of the substance you have.

How does it affect you physically when you use it?
GHB is naturally found in the human body in minute quantities. It is a minor inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts along with one of the major inhibitory neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to slow down the transmission of dopamine mediated signals in certain areas of the brain (Li, Stokes, Woeckener 1998, Tunniclif 1997). In practical terms, this means that your brain slows down in its functioning if you are taking GHB. What this means is that GHB is a nervous system depressant, like alcohol. The effects of GHB at recreational doses are similar to alcohol. At lower doses, its effects are similar to mild alcohol intoxication causing decreased motor skills, relaxation, reduction of social inhibitions and mood lift. By all the accounts we've heard, GHB seems to heighten feelings of sexuality. Users commonly claim that the drug makes them feel sexually more aggressive. At higher doses, effects can include dizziness, difficulty focusing the eyes, euphoric mood, slurring of speech, nausea, and grogginess. G is dangerous because the line between recreational dose and overdose is a narrow one. At the overdose level, individuals may experience decreased level of consciousness, extreme dizziness, disorientation, vomiting, and respiratory depression. What seems like a small amount may actually be too much, and too much GHB can kill you. Please be cautious if you use this drug.

How long will the effects last?
Effects may take between 20 minutes and an hour to appear, depending on when and what you last ate. Many GHB users re-dose an hour after their first dose, only to find that this dose stacking is too much, putting them in a very risky situation. GHB has a short half-life meaning the drug's effects are experienced for a short period of time. Users frequently report that there is very little hangover from taking it. Also because of its short half-life, those who pass out from taking too much often wake up quickly. Unfortunately, in severe overdoses, death from decreased level of consciousness can also occur very quickly without urgent medical care. The risk of a crash after your drug binge is somewhat less with GHB-users frequently report that there are no after-effects, or at worst minimal ones in the days following their drug use.

What are the short-term risks?
The biggest problem with GHB is not knowing the concentration of the dose you have in your hand. The concentration of GHB in its liquid form is almost impossible to gauge and its effects on your body and brain are highly dependent on your physical and mental state at the time of ingestion. This is compounded by the fact that GHB has what is called a “sharp dose response curve". This means that it takes very little of the drug to create a noticeable effect. As a result, even small overdoses—a couple of sips from your g-water--can throw you into a g-hole (a messy, unrousable unconsciousness for a couple of hours).

At overdose levels, GHB can produce both unconsciousness and vomiting. This is an extremely dangerous combination. Vomiting while lying unconscious on your back can lead to aspiration (inhalation) of the vomit, leading to suffocation and damage to the lungs. Individuals who are unconscious and vomiting should be turned on their side and their airway cleared so they do not inhale their vomit. Monitor them constantly until help arrives or they become conscious. If you are alone, call for help and position yourself to minimize the risk of aspiration if you become unconscious—on your side with your head on your arm. Individuals who become unconscious and can’t be woken up after taking GHB (or anything) need urgent medical care. Too much GHB can slow down your breathing (respiratory depression) or stop it entirely (apnea), both serious and potentially fatal situations without proper medical care.

What are the long-term risks?
The addiction potential of GHB is not well known, but from reports, it appears that GHB can be both physically addicting and mentally habituating for a small percentage of users. When GHB binds to receptors on brain cells, it tells the cell to stop transmitting dopamine. With repeated uses of GHB, your brain is getting the signal to stop producing dopamine. If you regularly consume GHB, your brain cells will eventually respond to this command creating a two-fold effect: you will need to consume more GHB to get your high and you will need GHB to feel normal.

What are the general harm reduction techniques?
Whenever you're taking drugs, it's always sensible to start with a little and take more only if you need it - remember, some drugs sneak up on you. If you grab a bottle of water from someone on the dance floor, be sure it doesn't contain their supply of G before you gulp it down. Ask them if it’s just water.

The main problem with GHB is the dose concentration. Short of having a chemist in your pocket, there is no way you can be sure of the concentration. Be smart; start slow. If you are going to take GHB, you can reduce the risks of overdosing by ensuring your source is reliable, that you use the same source every time, and ask your provider if it is the same concentration as last time. You can also help yourself by asking your provider if what you have in front of you is GHB or some other related drug/chemical (like GBL). You can also reduce your risk of overdose by being very careful about how much you take. Take half the vial and adopt a wait and see approach. Try to consider how much you've eaten, the environment around you, and any other drugs you may have already taken. The onset of the drug can be affected by all of these factors - and more - so waiting for an hour is not unreasonable. The last thing you want to do is take a second dose before the first dose has started to work its magic on your brain. You'll end up on the floor.

Consider purchasing your GHB in larger quantities. If you can be relatively sure that your entire stash is from the same batch, and if you experiment with this batch, then you'll have a better sense of what dose to take the next time.

Because of the danger involved in falling into a G-hole, you should never use it alone. One of the most dangerous things that can happen is you will pass out, vomit, and choke to death. Be sure there are others around, and make sure they know what you're on. Tell them when you've dropped and, if you can get it together, let them know when you're peaking.

Since GHB increases the chance that you'll wind up in bed with a stranger, pack condoms with your vial and be sure of your dose. The last thing you need is to pass out at his place.

Do not get in a car and drive while on GHB or any other drug. Ever. You've made a choice to take drugs and are willing to take the risks, but don't put another driver (someone's mother/father/child/spouse/lover) at risk.

How will I feel at first if I'm getting into trouble?
The onset of a G-hole is very, very quick. If you feel at all dizzy, inform the people you're with - and trust them to either get you home to bed, or if need be, to a hospital. Don't worry about embarrassing yourself by saying "I'm dizzy". It's more important to be safe.

How do I know if someone is "falling out"?
"Falling out" means losing consciousness, ususally while standing up. You'll notice droopy eye-lids, and slowed or slurred responses. Someone falling out will have a hard time focusing, and will usually start to stumble or sway. If you see this, it's time to act. You can help by physically supporting a person long enough to get them to a place to lay down.

What should I do if I've had too much?
If you've had too much, you'll probably pass out - so you must rely on the people around you. Don't use this drug alone. Ask for help before you are unable to. If you suspect that you are going to fall out, trust your insticts and ask a friend to keep their eyes on you. Move to a quiet area or somewhere near medical services, just in case.

What about a bump of Crystal?
How about an energy drink?

What are the contraindications? What drugs shouldn't I mix with this drug?
Combining GHB with alcohol can lead to overdoses at even lower levels. Do not, we repeat, do not take GHB with alcohol. The dose response curve becomes steeper than normal while you are using alcohol and the chance that you will pass out is that much greater. Booze and GHB can lead to a very depressed respiratory system (i.e.: you will stop breathing and die).

It is a very bad idea to mix GHB with tranquilizers or sedatives such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Both are sedatives, which, like GHB, cause depression of the central nervous system. They are usually prescribed as medications to help with sleep or relieve anxiety. Benzodiazepines usually have a generic name that ends with "pam" (ativan, alprazolam, clonazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, diazepam) and are sold under trade names like Ativan, Xanax, Rivotril, Serax, Restoril and Valium. Barbiturates are less commonly prescribed these days. Partiers often use benzodiazepines to get a couple of hours of solid rest after a night or weekend of partying. GHB, barbiturates and benzodiazepines all bind to the same receptor sites in your brain-so if you are on GHB and you take a Xanax to go to sleep you are in effect radically reducing the level of dopamine circulating in your brain. The effect is pretty significant: you could end up not waking up. This also goes for the non-benzodiazepine hypnotic zopiclone (sold under the trade names Imovane and Rhovane).