GHB (and GBL)
GHB is known by street name as Liquid Ecstasy, GBH, Fantasy, Midnight Blue, Blue Nitro, RenewTrient, Somatapro, Enliven, Serenity and others.
GHB (gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid or 4-hydroxybutanoic acid) is a substance, which has in recent years become popular in parts of the rave scene. It has relatively low levels of toxicity, and in clinical medicine it has been used as a general anaesthetic, a treatment for insomnia, narcolepsy, alcoholism and depression, and as an enhancer of athletic performance.
GHB was first synthesized in the 1960s, and has the ability to stimulate the release of human growth hormone, being used for this purpose by body-builders in the 1980s. In low doses it has a euphoriant, relaxing and disinhibiting effect somewhat similar to alcohol, and these effects can last for several hours. There is a strong sexual component associated with the drug’s action. It can also produce drowsiness and dizziness, and at higher doses users can experience a numbing of the muscles and lapse into unconsciousness.
GHB was made a Class C controlled drug in 2003. A clear liquid, it is usually sold in 30ml plastic containers, with a small capful providing an ‘average’ dose. However, as its purity and therefore its strength can vary greatly, users should approach it with caution; it can take up to an hour for the effects to be fully felt. It is often used in combination with stimulants. Owing to its powerful disabling effects it can leave users vulnerable to sexual assault, and should again be used with considerable care and only amongst trusted friends. GHB has been used as a ‘date-rape drug’ owing to these characteristics.
GBL is the precursor chemical to GHB and in the body is quickly metabolized into GHB. It appears in the same liquid form and produces equivalent effects to GHB. GBL is used in industrial chemistry in the UK and is widely available.
GHB and GBL are Class C, schedule 4(1) drugs. It is illegal to possess, supply or produce this drug.
Possession of Class C drugs carries a maximum sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment and a fine. Trafficking offences carry a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment and a fine.
Free, confidential information and advice is available by calling the Release Drugs Helpline on 0845 45 00 215