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GHB: What Parents Need to Know


What It Is:

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a depressant that is usually available in the form of a clear liquid. It is known as a designer drug because it is made (usually in home basement labs) for the purposes of getting high.

Like Ecstasy, GHB is popular with club-goers and those who go to "rave" parties, including teens and young adults. When mixed with alcohol, the drug produces a depressant effect that can cause a person to become unconscious and black out. As a result, GHB is often referred to as the date rape drug.

Sometimes Called:

Liquid Ecstasy, G, Georgia homeboy, cups

How It's Used:

Swallowed (in liquid or powder form, which is mixed with water, or as tablets)

What It Does:

GHB causes both a euphoric high (intense rush of happy feelings) and hallucinations. GHB has caused many young people to need emergency medical care. Because the liquid is odorless and colorless, GHB diluted in drinks is virtually undetectable and sometimes is slipped unknowingly into someone else's drinks.

Side effects of GHB use include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and vision changes. People who take GHB may become unconscious (pass out), stop breathing, and go into a coma. GHB use can kill.

Because both GHB and alcohol are depressants, mixing the two is very, very dangerous and can be deadly — even if someone has only taken low doses of the drug.

Because of its serious effects, GHB has necessitated emergency medical care for many young people and has killed more users than the drug Ecstasy.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014