GHB is a drug commonly found around the dance and party scene. It has been tagged as a date-rape drug because it can be disguised in food and drinks, and leads to amnesia, impaired movement and speech. GHB’s main risk is from an overdose, especially if it’s taken with other depressant drugs, potentially leading to coma and death.
What is GHB?
GHB is a bitter or salty tasting liquid that may be odourless or have a slight odour. It is usually clear, but may be coloured bright blue. GHB can also be produced in powder or pill form.
GHB is an abbreviation of the chemical name gamma-hydroxybutyric acid.
It’s also known as G, GBH (grievous bodily harm), fantasy, gamma G, blue nitro and liquid E.
GHB is also called liquid ecstasy due to its effects, but it’s not chemically related to the drug ecstasy (MDMA).
GHB is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages travelling to and from the brain. It was originally developed as a general anaesthetic.
The effects of GHB start about 15 to 20 minutes after it’s taken. The early effects of GHB are the same as alcohol intoxication, such as reduced inhibitions, increased sex drive and having slurred speech. Users can become uncoordinated, forgetful, feel sick and vomit. These effects appear earlier if GHB is taken with alcohol. The effects last for up to 4 hours.
GHB is linked to date rape and sexual assaults. It can be camouflaged in drinks, particularly opaque and strong tasting drinks, and leaves the person who took it unable to remember much of what happened.
It’s very easy to overdose on GHB, especially if it’s taken with alcohol. Overdose can lead to coma and death.
Little is known about the long-term effects of GHB, but regular users do become dependent on it.
Last reviewed: March 2017