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Drug Information



What is GHB?

GHB is Gammahydroxybutyrate or sodium oxybate. It is an anaesthetic drug with primarily sedative rather than pain killing properties, and has been used to promote sleep before surgery. GHB is commonly seen in liquid form, which is colourless and odourless, with a slightly salty taste, and usually sold in small bottles. It is also seen in powder and capsule form.

How is it used?

GHB is usually swallowed. Bottles of GHB usually contain between 30ml to 40ml of liquid. It is unclear what a standard amount for recreational use would be, as the strength of GHB varies greatly. What are the effects? The effects of GHB are noticeable within ten minutes to one hour after taking. At lower levels the effects are similar to alcohol – reduced inhibitions, feelings of relaxation and increased libido. At higher levels it can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and coma.

GHB has been linked with date rape in this country. GHB can be added to a person’s drink without them knowing, and the sedative effects of the drug are then enhanced by the alcohol, which has resulted in sexual assaults taking place whilst individuals are unconscious. Bodybuilders also use GHB in order to increase muscle growth, as GHB promotes ‘slow wave sleep’ during which a growth hormone is secreted. Although literature often refers to GHB as ‘liquid ecstasy’ it is much more likely that GHB is used as an alternative to alcohol rather than ecstasy, as ecstasy use results in a totally different experience. The long-term consequences of using GHB are at present unknown, although there is a potential for physical and psychological dependence.

Legal status

GHB is a Class C drug.

  • The maximum penalty for possessing a Class C drug is two years in prison plus an unlimited fine.
  • The maximum penalty for supplying a Class C drug is 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.


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