Gammahydroxybutyrate (Hydroxybutyric acid)

Street names: GBH, Liquid E, Liquid X

Similar drugs: It is sold as liquid ecstasy, although it is in no way related to ecstasy.

What is GHB?

Drug type: GHB is a depressant drug, which slows down body actions. GHB is a synthetic drug used as an anaesthetic.

Legal status: GHB is a class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.  The maximum penalty for possession is 2 years in prison.  The maximum penalty for possession with intent to supply is 14 years in prison. Unauthorised manufacture or distribution is also an offence.

What is it? GHB is a colourless liquid with a slightly salty taste and is usually sold in bottles for up to £15, but sometimes comes as tablets.

GHB Effects - How it makes you feel

How it can make you feel? GHB effects vary, small doses will feel like having a few drinks of alcohol.  Inhibitions are lowered and libido increased.  At higher doses it may cause sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, muscle stiffness and confusion.  GHB has been used by body builders because it is supposed to promote the kind of sleep that is best for protein (and therefore muscle) build up.  Around 1994 it began to appear on the UK club scene.

What you should know - the risks & side effects of GHB

The risks: The strength of GHB can vary greatly from bottle to bottle so it may be very difficult to know how much is being taken. The side effects of GHB for some people who take it while on other drugs can create unpredictable and possibly dangerous results, especially if the other drugs are depressants like alcohol. Really high doses can lead to convulsions, coma and respiratory collapse.

Not a lot is known about the effects of long-term use of GHB.  However it is possible that tolerance, physical dependence and psychological dependence could result.

GHB image courtesy of Talk to Frank, Crown Copyright