GHB (Gammahydroxybutrate) and the lesser used GBL (Gammabutyrolactone) are liquid club/dance drugs. They are Class C drugs. A small dose can have a powerful sedating effect, mixing it with any alcohol is extremely dangerous which can lead to unconsciousness and coma. They are solvents. GBL was manufactured as an industrial solvent for cleaning video tape, metals or removing spray paint from walls. When drank, GBL converts very quickly into GHB and has a powerful euphoric effect. GHB can also be bought as a drug – their effects and harms are closely similar. Both give a strong sense of contentment, however there is a very fine line between getting the desired amount and taking too much. Measuring an accurate dose is vital to prevent a bad reaction which can include physical collapse. Regular use over time will lead to addiction.
These drugs have been available for the last ten years or so. GHB became a banned substance in the UKin 2003. The market switched to GBL which remained legal until 2009. GBL is the more prevalent drug. There are concentrated pockets of high use in some groups in urban areas such as gay men and students. The cost is typically about £15 for a 30ml bottle of pure (99% purity) GBL (supplied with pipette for accurate dosing).
Also known as: G, geeb
The effects take about 15-45 minutes and the user feels euphoria and less inhibited. They last for 3-6 hours. Like alcohol and opiates, these drugs suppress breathing. Higher doses can make the person vomit, become aggressive and delirious. Eventually they become very sleepy or reach a state of collapse. Overdosing leads to unconsciousness and in a few cases, death. GHB and GBL give a warm sense of contentment and at the correct dose cause obvious intoxication and physically incapability. These drugs reduce inhibitions so are used as sex drugs, by enhancing sexual stimulation. Prolonged use increases tolerance and repeat dosing and addiction can develop. Withdrawal can be difficult; craving and relapse is common.
The risk of taking too much GBL (or GHB) by getting the dose wrong is high. There are no studies available which show what longer term harms are caused by consuming this solvent. GBL encourages sleep so a high dose can lead to a comatose state. There is also the risk of accidental overdose. GBL is likely to cause addiction after a period of sustained use. Some people find themselves taking it during the day to boost their mood, like a long-lasting but undetectable alcohol. At first there seems little downside, but after a while certain symptoms emerge including loss of normal sleep patterns, inability to function on mundane matters, blacked out periods and craving.
Taking it every day, will meant a high risk of becoming dependent on it. Addiction can become acute and is hard to overcome. Those dependent on GBL suffer from depression and can be aggressive, irritable and restless as well as experiencing insomnia and memory problems. It is often taken in with other drugs such as alcohol, ketamine, cocaine and cannabis. A moderate to high dose (1-2ml) mixed with alcohol can, in the inexperienced and unsuspecting user, lead to unconsciousness; it can even be fatal. GBL has been used in sexual assaults as a rape drug. GBL is a drug which encourages sexual behaviour so there is increased risk of pregnancy, STDs and sexual injury.
GBL and GHB are both class C drugs so they are illegal to possess or supply. Being caught in possession may result in arrest. Being caught in possession of even very small amounts would likely result in arrest. Those caught in possession may be offered a caution – this means accepting the offence and getting a criminal record. There is also a smaller chance of being charged with the offence and having to appear in court where the outcome is most likely a fine or possibly some community service. There have been reports of GBL being used as a rape drug. Putting GBL in someone’s drink intending to take advantage of them sexually is a very serious offence and on conviction will attract a substantial period of imprisonment (5-10 years).