GHB- The “Date-Rape Drug” . . .How Dangerous is it?

According to the America Journal of Emergency Medicine there were 226 GHB related deaths in the U.S., Canada and the UK, between 1995 to 2005.

In Sydney just last April, an article in ABC News reported that in one weekend alone St Vincent’s Hospital saw six GHB overdoses. Three of the GHB overdoses resulted in the users going to ICU and one was DOA (death on arrival).

Last April a raid in Southport took approximately 5,300 hits of GHB, worth $100,000, off the street during Operation North Hardwood in the Gold Coast.

According to the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 0.8 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 have tried GHB at one point in his or her life and 0.1 per cent had used GHB over the past year.

In a study by The Medical Journal of Australia researchers compared the number of ambulance attendances between heroin users and GHB users. What researchers found was “around 90% of patients on GHB were transported to hospital, compared with 21% of heroin overdoses.”  In total, between March 2001 and October 2005 there were 618 GHB-related ambulance attendances. The study noted that these reports may be low and not reflect actual GHB  associated harms because some GHB-related cases may have been missed due to patients being unconscious upon arrival or because usage reported was dependent on a third party such as family or friend.

What is GHB?

Gamma hydroxybutyrate or GHB is a highly addictive depressant that works like an anaesthetic in sufficient doses. A party drug used since the 1960’s, GHB is a naturally occurring substance found in the body that slows down a person’s brain activity and central nervous system. GHB also known as ‘Fantasy,’ ‘G,’ or ‘Gina’ is a colourless and odourless liquid that got its notoriety for being used as a ‘date rape’ drug.

GHB is a particularly lethal drug when it is mixed with alcohol or other depressant drugs. The problem with GHB is users often do not know the strength or purity of the drug they are ingesting.  There is a very minute difference between the amount a person needs to get high and the amount that leads to an overdose. Accurately measuring doses is very difficult, especially since there is little consistency in concentration of the illicit drug. High doses of GHB can result in loss of consciousness, memory loss, seizures, respiratory problems, coma and even death.

GHB is often used by ice users to come down, especially when they have not slept for three or four days. The combination between GHB and ice can be deadly.

Who takes GHB?

In the 1980s GHB was used by body builders in an attempt to have their body release more growth hormones. There have also been many reports of GBH being used as a date rape drug because it can be added to drinks without detection and impairs the victim’s movement and speech.

Now GBH is commonly used in the nightclub and rave scene by young adults for its ability to increase sex drive, as well as its sedative and euphoric effects.

To get help with GHB or other drug related issues, contact the Australian Drugs Information Network.