Alcohol & Drugs
A picture of GHB/GBL

What’s the deal with gHB/GBL?

GHB/GBL or gamma hydroxybutyrate is a depressant. It slows down the rate in which our brain sends out chemical messages to the rest of the body. The precursor of GHB gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4BD) are chemically similar to GHB. Both of these compounds are used widely in the chemical industry. Both GBL and 1,4BD are rapidly converted to GHB when consumed.

A clear liquid with an astringent, bitter after taste GHB/GBL can also be found as a bright blue liquid known commonly as blue nitro. 

How does it work?

GHB/GBL is taken orally although shelving or injecting is not uncommon.

Effects

There is no such thing as a safe level of drug use. Substance use carries risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any drug. If injected, the effects of G are felt almost immediately and these will vary dependent on:

  • A person’s body weight
  • General state of health
  • Regular use of substance
  • If taken in combination with other drugs including prescription medication
  • The amount that is consumed
  • Quality of the drug (this varies from batch to batch for most illicit drugs)

Short Term Effects

The effects of GHB/GBL are felt within 15 to 20 minutes and may last up to 3 or 4 hours depending on the strength of the substance and quantity consumed. The most common effects of G are:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased libido
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Memory lapses
  • Clumsiness and or loss of motor control
  • Dizziness or headache
  • Lowered body temperature and heart rate
  • Nausea, diarrhoea or difficulties urinating

Long Term Effects

Little is known about the long-term effects that G has on the body. This is because the chemical composition of GHB/GBL varies, largely due to the method in which it is manufactured.

What we do know though is this - it’s very easy to take too much G. The difference between the amount needed for a high to that of a fatal dose can be difficult to judge. 

Safety

If you're going to use any form of drug, go about it safely. You make the choices that determine what substances you put into your body. Whatever your choice, it's important to remember that being safe and responsible (that's with yourself and with others) is the golden rule. We've got some helpful tips to consider. We've got some helpful tips to consider.

  • Set limits for yourself, and stick to them
  • Try to be aware of exactly what you are taking and how much 

Safer Injecting

When injecting, it’s important to always use a clean fit. Avoid sharing injecting equipment if possible. Blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B, C and HIV can be transmitted by sharing your rigs. Be aware of where blood may end up in the process of injecting. It can remain on or in needles but it can also find its way onto the back of your hand or the top of the table, so don’t assume that just because you can’t see it that it's not there. Wash your hands and clean the area where you've prepped to inject. Injecting drug use and the sharing of equipment may increase your risk of:

  • Vein damage and permanent scarring
  • Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Tetanus and HIV transmission
  • Deep vein thrombosis and clots – this may result in the loss of limbs, damage to organs, stroke and possibly even death

Overdose

GHB/GBL appears to be dose-dependent. Analysis of different vials of GHB/GBL has shown ranges in concentration from 0.5g-3g. Due to the enormous range, users can never be sure of how much they are actually taking. 

The difference between a dose that gives a pleasureable effect and one that lands you in hospital is very minimal. A number of deaths have been linked to the consumption of GHB/GBL and there is a great deal of debate over whether the use of G alone may result in fatality. The majority of deaths appear to have been caused by the use of G in association with alcohol or other drugs. Overdose is a real possibility with GHB/GBL so if you intend on taking it, be informed about how much you have taken or should be taking for your body size: 

Mixing with Other Drugs

The effect of G in combination with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medication is unpredictable. Here are some of the known interactions between GHB/GBL and other drugs including prescription medications:

GHB/GBL + Alcohol or Benzodiazepines greatly increases the chance of overdose.

GHB/GBL + Amphetamines or Ecstasy place enormous strain on the body and increases the risk of seizure. Using GHB/GBL to help with the come down of stimulants may lead to a cycle of dependence on both drugs.

Living with HIV

Let's be frank, recreational drug use (whether it's legal or not) is likely to interact or even interfere with the treatment regime of a person living with HIV. Changes in the concentration of ARV's is a result of two or more drugs interacting. These changes in concentration are known to be the very thing which ultimatley leads to treatment failure and toxicity.  

Interactions with HIV Medications

If you're HIV+ and a recreational user, check in regularly with your GP or an experienced HIV medical practitioner. Know your limits, know your body and be aware of the impact that other substances may have on your treatment.

We're unaware of any interactions or cross interaction between G and ARV's but this does not mean that it's safe to cut sick on it mate. Always excercise caution if mixing drugs.

Taking Hormones

For trans, gender diverse or intersex people who are taking some form of hormone therapy, it's important to be aware and informed of how your body processes these treatments.

Currently, there is limited information into the interactions and cross interactions of hormone therapy and recreational drug use but that doesn't mean we'll stop asking for it. Whether your hormones are prescribed by a doctor or you've sourced them yourself from the internet, make it a priority to get regular health checks. Sometimes, a change in dosage or preparation of hormones is needed and a qualified medical practitioner is the person best placed to advise you of this.

If you're not comfortable talking about your gender, gender identity or bodily difference with your doctor, get in touch and we can make recommendations for a service that is best placed to support your needs.

Interactions with Hormones

At this point we're unaware of any interactions or cross interactions between G and the hormone treatments but this does not mean that it's a fail safe. Always exercise caution if mixing drugs.

Treatment

If your GHB/GBL use has begun to have a negative impact on your overall health or your relationships with family and friends, your ability to focus on work or study or perhaps even the bottom line on your bank account - it's time to TouchBase with somebody who can help.

There are a number of treatment options and support services available for you, for your family or friends if they need it. Whatever your recovery goals are, if it is to control, reduce or stop GHB/GBL use, reach out for some support.

Counselling & Support

Counselling can be provided individually or in a group situation, and is available to people who use alcohol or other drugs, and to their family members or support people. A support service can offer counselling or direct you to a service appropriate for you. Speak to your doctor, alcohol and other drugs treatment service or local community health service.

Find help and support services.

Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation programs take a long term approach to treatment to help you achieve your goals with your alcohol or other drug use. Residential withdrawal is also available from some treatment services.

Find out more about withdrawal.

Complementary therapies

These include treatments such as massage and relaxation therapies, which can be useful to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. 

Peer support 

These programs are provided for people who use alcohol and other drugs, and their family members or support person/s. 

Withdrawal & Rehab

Giving up G may prove challenging for some. Withdrawal symptoms will start about 12 hours after the last dose and can continue for 15 days. These symptoms may include:

  • Confusion and agitation
  • Increased anxiety and feeling of paranoia
  • Disturbance in regular sleep patterns
  • Muscle cramps and tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate

Sudden withdrawal from high doses of GHB/GBL may result in blackouts, bowel and bladder incontinence.

Important notice

Please note: The information given on this page is not medical advice and should not be relied upon in that way. Individuals wanting medical advice about GHB/GBL should consult a health professional.