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GHB and mental health

3-minute read

GHB (gamma hydroxylbutyrate) is a drug commonly found around the dance and party scene. It’s known as a ‘date rape’ drug, and you might not notice if GHB is slipped into your drink at a party. The main risk with GHB is from an overdose, which could kill you.

GHB is a bitter or salty tasting liquid that is odourless or has a slight odour. It can also be found in powder or pill form. GHB typically doesn’t have any colour, but can make a transparent drink cloudy or can be coloured bright blue. It is usually swallowed but sometimes it is injected or inserted anally.

GHB is also known as fantasy, GBH (grievous bodily harm), G, blue nitro and liquid ecstasy. GHB is an abbreviation of the chemical name gamma-hydroxybutyric acid.

GHB effects

GHB is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages to and from the brain. It was originally developed as a general anaesthetic, and makes people who use it drowsy.

The early effects of GHB are the same as alcohol intoxication, such as reduced inhibitions and having slurred speech. Users can become uncoordinated, forgetful, feel sick and vomit.

GHB is known as a date rape drug because it can be camouflaged in opaque strongly flavoured drinks (drink spiking) such as cocktails.

Find out about so called party drugs and where to find help and support.

The risk of overdosing on GHB is very high, especially if it’s combined with other depressant drugs such as alcohol. Find out about the physical effects of GHB.

Mental health issues

GHB overdoses can cause hallucinations, memory loss and blackouts.

Not much is known about its long-term effects, but regular use can lead to tolerance and dependence.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues as a result of drug use, try healthdirect’s Symptom Checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Kicking the habit

Withdrawal symptoms start about 12 hours after the last dose, and often last for 2 weeks or so. They include:

Find help on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website.

You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14, DrugInfo on 1300 85 85 84 or the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 if you need to talk to someone about drugs.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2019

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GHB - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a depressant, which means it slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body.

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GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is an illegal drug that acts as a nervous system depressant. It is also called grievous bodily harm (GBH) or fantasy. GHB is highly addictive. It produces feelings of euphoria, relaxation, sociability and an increased urge for sex. However, even a small increase in dose can cause serious effects or death. GHB has been used to spike drinks and as a 'date rape' drug.

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