What is GHB?
GHB, gammahydroxy-butyric acid, is a depressant sedative drug usually found in an odorless and tasteless liquid form. GHB in fact occurs naturally in the human brain, however at far smaller concentrations than the amount ingested when taken medically or recreationally. GHB is often referred to as G, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid X and Fantasy amongst other names.
GHB is sometimes used medically for treating narcolepsy and on rarity alcoholism. More commonly it is taken recreationally for its effects similar to that of ecstasy and alcohol. GHB has also been identified in usage as a date rape drug due to its ability to sedate victims with high doses mixed with alcohol.
How GHB Affects Brain?
GHB affects the brain by binding to the GABAB receptors and a specific GHB binding site. Repeated, continuous use of GHB can lead to a build of tolerance and a chemical dependency resulting in addiction. GHB is considered primarily a psychologically addictive substance and often not considered physically addictive in most people. It can take a matter of a few weeks for physical dependency to GHB when taking four to six regular doses a week.
Signs and Side-effects of GHB Addiction
When a person takes one dose of GHB, it stays for three hours in his/her system. It becomes more dangerous when consumed with other addictive substances such as alcohol. Due to GHB, the body becomes unable to process the alcohol; as a result, the liver suffers. Thus, be aware of GHB addiction.
Warning signs of GHB Addiction include:
- Psychological and mood changes
- Persistent thoughts about the next dose
- Lack of concern for responsibilities such as family, work and/or school
Taking a smaller dose of GHB, thinking that it won’t be fatal is a misconception. Even a little dose of this drug is enough to affect you physically and mentally. Some common side-effects of GHB addiction include:
In severe cases, if someone overdoses on GHB they start having breathing problems. As a result, a person becomes unconscious and seems like he/she is sleeping. Thus, it is important to pay close attention to the condition of such people and take the patient immediately to a nearby hospital.
Signs of GHB Withdrawal
When someone develops an addiction to GHB it is likely that they will experience GHB withdrawal syndrome when they attempt to quit or find themselves abstinent from GHB. GHB Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Delirium Tremens
- Audio, Visual and/or Tactile Hallucinations
- Intermittent Tachycardia
GHB withdrawal syndrome can last up to two weeks or more and effects of anxiety, depression and cognitive impairments can last for months after.
Treatment of GHB Addiction/Withdrawal
For treating GHB addiction, you can consider the following options.
When detoxing from GHB addiction it is highly recommended, due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms, to do so under medical supervision. This can be achieved by either an addiction treatment center or a detoxification facility. In patient treatment centers can monitor clients 24/7 and often prescribed medications in order to alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Being in treatment facility also helps to reduce chances of relapse during the detox process.
It is also recommended to seek out and utilize therapy, either at the rehabilitation or at an outpatient program after detox. Drug addiction commonly comes as a dual diagnosis with underlying mental disorders such as anxiety, depression or trauma. Therapy can help to identify these and either resolves these issues and/or teaches coping tools for the future.
12 Step programs can be of great usefulness to those with a drug addiction such as GHB addiction. 12 Step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous are fellowships of men and women all recovering from a similar disease of addiction.