Last Updated on March 5, 2024 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Many people have not even heard of the drug GHB. Others use it daily. Although some people associate this drug with date rape, it has some positive medical applications, and it is also used as voluntarily as a recreational drug. Unfortunately, some of the people who begin using GHB for fun soon find that they develop a GHB dependency. This drug is not very physically addictive, but it can be extremely mentally addictive, and some users may need help to break free from a GHB addiction. Read on to learn more.

What is GHB?

GHB is a popular club drug in some circles. The complete name of this drug is gamma hydroxybutyrate or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid. GHB is made in a lab and its chemical structure is C4H8O3. 

However, there are numerous GHB street names. Most recreational users simply call it G. Some call it liquid ecstasy, even though it has no chemical similarity to MDMA

GHB is a depressant. It’s usually available in a clear liquid form that is then added to beverages; it can also be found in powder form that is consumed in the same way. 

GHB Drug Effects

GHB effects are fairly consistent. Users tend to describe the effects of GHB as a euphoric high that is often accompanied by hallucinations.

GHB has little taste and no scent. As a result, it can easily be added to someone’s drink without their knowledge. GHB side effects can be dangerous. In high enough doses, it can cause someone to pass out, which is why this drug is often used as a date rape drug. Even higher doses can lead to respiratory distress, coma, or even death.

However, under proper medical supervision, GHB does have some positive medical applications. Doctors prescribe GHB as a medication under the name Xyrem. This drug is an isolation of the sodium salt from GHB – sodium oxybate – and it is offered as a narcolepsy medication. It treats two symptoms of narcolepsy – sudden muscle weakness and excessive daytime sleepiness – with excellent results.

GHB Abuse and Addiction

People who use GHB recreationally may find GHB addictive after a short period of regular use, and that can lead to GHB abuse that can be dangerous in both the short and long term. GHB addiction is not uncommon, and people who struggle with dependency may feel that they need GHB dose after dose even though there is little documented proof of physical addiction.

Some people begin using GHB for bodybuilding and soon find they cannot stop. Bodybuilders like the GHB effects because they find that it induces restful sleep, stimulates fat metabolism, and releases growth hormones. It’s easy to see how this drug could be helpful for people seeking bodybuilding goals, but it can soon become an ongoing problem. 

Others may view GHB as one of several medications to help with alcoholism. Because it is also a depressant, it can aid in decreasing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when detoxing from alcohol. However, GHB can not only cause negative physical effects on someone who is addicted, but it can also mask clinical depression symptoms as well, making this drug just as bad, if not worse, than alcohol. People who use GHB to overcome alcoholism are likely only making things worse for themselves in both the short and long term.

There are numerous GHB symptoms that can indicate an existing or growing dependency. People who use GHB on a regular basis may demonstrate slurred speech, clumsiness, loss of muscle control, tremors, excessive perspiration, and increased sensitivity to light and sound. They may have memory problems, including blackouts and amnesia, and they may often be confused and disoriented. At the same time, people who use GHB may experience feelings of profound relaxation and a decreased sense of anxiety. The positives often outweigh the negatives for regular users; they tend to ignore the massive risks that go hand in hand with GHB use.

GHB Overdose

In addition to the above symptoms of GHB use and abuse, there are also many dangerous physical effects that can lead to a situation in which medical attention is required. GHB can lower the body temperature and can slow respiration and heart rate. These effects can lead to GHB overdose which can be very dangerous. Furthermore, GHB can cause nausea and vomiting; if the user is unconscious due to the other effects of the drug, this can lead to blocked airways which can lead to death as well. When combined with alcohol, these symptoms are even more dangerous, as both GHB and alcohol are depressants. 

Sadly, there is no true GHB overdose treatment in these situations. There is no antidote. Emergency medical personnel may have a hard time reviving someone who is overdosing on this drug. In many cases, doctors will try to give the user activated charcoal in an attempt to eliminate GHB in the system and to prevent further absorption. 

GHB overdose is very common among regular users. It is a very dangerous drug, and few users realize the extent of its danger when they first begin using it.

GHB Withdrawal

If you or someone you love is a regular user of GHB, breaking free from this addiction is crucial. GHB may seem fun and harmless at first, but it can become a problem very quickly. People who want to quit GHB may struggle with GHB withdrawal. Some doctors offer Benzodiazepine treatment for withdrawal from GHB; that can be helpful, as long as the user does not instead become dependent on Benzodiazepine instead.

GHB Withdrawal Symptoms 

GHB withdrawals can be very uncomfortable and can be dangerous. Many addiction professionals say that it can be as hard as stopping a heroin addiction. There are many symptoms that someone going through GHB withdrawal may experience such as anxiety, insomnia, shaking, sweating, high blood pressure, and physical tremors. Users trying to break free from a GHB addiction may also have psychotic thoughts, extreme confusion, delirium, or hallucinations. They may also demonstrate aggression and changes in mood as well.

How to overcome GHB addiction?

The first step is to recognize that you have a problem. If you don’t want to use GHB anymore, you need to find a way to resist temptation. For example, if you see someone else using the drug, don’t try it yourself.

To beat this addiction:

1. Seek professional help – The important step to recovery is to seek the help of a qualified addiction treatment program. The best programs will offer both residential and outpatient care by experienced clinicians who understand the risks and challenges of this kind of addiction.

2. Stay connected – Even if you are in treatment, staying connected with family and friends is critical to your recovery success and mental health. Check-in regularly by phone or digital devices so that they know you are safe and on the road to recovery.

3. Focus on healthy activities – Aftercare is just as important as in-patient treatment. You need to find motivational activities that will help you stay clean and sober when you leave the treatment center. Balance your time between rest, fun activities, physical fitness, social activities, and spiritual pursuits.

The most important thing when trying to beat any drug abuse is honesty, no matter how hard it may be at first. Despite the challenges that someone may experience when trying to stop using GHB, quitting is worth it. No one wants to be dependent on a drug for a short or long period, especially one that can be so dangerous. If you or someone you love is addicted to GHB, seek help to end this cycle. GHB users recover from this addiction every day, and with the proper guidance and support, you or your loved one can, too.

At Clear Sky Recovery, we want to help you or your loved one to break free from GHB addiction. Our treatment is innovative. Through a medically supervised experience with ibogaine therapy, our clients are able to get to the root of their addictions so they can change their behavior moving forward. Many of the people who visit us at our facility in Cancun, Mexico, report that they experience few, if any, painful withdrawal symptoms when they stop using with ibogaine. We’d love to hear more about you or your loved one and we want to help you determine a path to recovery. You can break free from addiction to GHB. We look forward to hearing from you and our knowledgeable staff is on hand to answer your questions. Give us a call today.


What is the function of GHB?

GHB is used as a treatment for conditions like narcolepsy, particularly to improve symptoms of cataplexy (sudden muscle weakness). It induces relaxation and sleep.

What is GHB slang for?

GHB stands for Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate. In slang, it’s often referred to as ‘liquid ecstasy,’ ‘G,’ ‘fantasy,’ or ‘Georgia Home Boy,’ among other names.

Why is GHB addictive?

GHB is addictive due to its impact on the brain’s neurotransmitter systems, particularly GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). It can induce feelings of euphoria, reduced inhibitions, and relaxation, which can lead to psychological dependency.

What is GHB used for in bodybuilding?

In the bodybuilding community, GHB has been used for its supposed benefits in fat reduction and muscle building. This is based on the belief that it can stimulate the release of growth hormone. However, this use is not scientifically proven and is associated with significant health risks.