Physical Effects of GHB Abuse

What Does a GHB High Feel Like?

GHB triggers feelings of calm, relaxation and a mild euphoria. Though often likened to the experience of being drunk on alcohol, GHB does not produce a hangover after use. As the amount of GHB ingested increases, anxieties and inhibitions decrease, leaving users feeling more social and tending to act less inhibited and more talkative. GHB users are often enveloped by a strange sense of warmth. GHB is commonly used in dance club or rave settings, and some users describe increased feelings of connection to the auditory stimuli, increasingly fluid movement, and greater sensory impact after ingesting GHB. GHB also lends itself to heavy intoxication and lower motor function, as well as temporary amnesia—the combination of which has earned it a reputation as “the date rape drug.”

What Are the Physical Effects of GHB?

The physical effects of GHB depend on the dosage taken. Many GHB users report a lowered coordination and extreme dizziness as the amount of GHB taken increases. GHB users noticeably slur their speech and become increasingly incoherent. Additionally, it is common to feel nauseated and exhausted as the GHB dose rises.

The effects of GHB initiate after 10 to 20 minutes and build for up to an hour after taking the drug. The rate of onset and intensity of effect can be reduced if GHB users have recently eaten before taking the drug, as well. The peak of the GHB high lasts about two hours before it begins to wear off one to two hours later. Repeated dosing during this period can maintain the high for hours on end.

Can You Overdose From GHB?

A GHB overdose is similar to alcohol poisoning, as users experience nausea, dizziness, vomiting—and ultimately unconsciousness. In fact, alcohol use will heighten both the likelihood of vomiting and passing out, which is a potentially lethal combination as toxic levels of GHB can remain present in the blood stream and aspiration can occur.

Three factors that contribute to GHB overdose include body weight, mixing GHB with alcohol, and ingesting abnormally high concentrations of GHB. GHB users with lower body weights are more likely to overdose due to the extremely small margin between a recreational dose and an overdose. Because GHB is a central nervous system depressant, mixing GHB with alcohol—another CNS depressant—can amplify both the effects and negative side-effects that contribute to overdose. Additionally, because GHB is manufactured illegally, the concentration and purity are often unknown, leading individuals to take unexpedantly high doses and overdose when they did not intend to.

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