GHB is one of the most commonly abused “club drugs” in Alabama. The acronym stands for gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, a depressant that reportedly induces sensations of calm and euphoria. 

Sometimes people take analogs in place of GHB. These are concerning for two particular reasons. First, they do not show up in routine toxicological screens. Second, they have legitimate uses as industrial solvents and are therefore easy to obtain legally. 

What is GHB’s legal status? 

The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies GHB as a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that GHB has no accepted medical use. However, it is similar to another drug called sodium oxybate, which also goes by the brand name Xyrem. This is a legal drug with Food and Drug Administration approval, meaning that you could theoretically obtain it legally with a doctor’s prescription. Because Xyrem is a Schedule III controlled substance, there are restrictions on its dispensation to patients. People who abuse GHB may try to divert Xyrem for illicit purposes. 

How and why do people use GHB? 

In addition to euphoric and tranquilizing effects, GHB reportedly also increases libido. People may take it voluntarily to enjoy these effects at a party by dissolving it in drinks and imbibing it. GHB can also cause short-term memory loss, passivity and suggestibility. Therefore, others may try to slip it unnoticed into your drink to take advantage of you sexually. 

What are the short- and long-term effects? 

An overdose of GHB can cause death. High doses can also lead to nausea, vomiting, slowed breathing and heart rate, low body temperature, seizures and unconsciousness. Withdrawal symptoms after regular use of GHB may include psychosis, high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and tremors.