What is GHB?
Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is another name for the generic drug Sodium oxybate. Xyrem (which is sodium oxybate) is the trade name of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medication.
GHB can have an addictive potential if used repeatedly. When a person stops taking these drugs, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, especially if their body has become physically dependent on the drug.
Recovery professionals recommend beginning the first phase of treatment in a supervised facility. This will all start by undergoing medically assisted GHB detox. GHB is used to treat two symptoms of narcolepsy, such as sudden muscle weakness and excessive daytime sleepiness.
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) , GHB is classified as a Schedule I drug. It means there is a high potential for abuse, not currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
However, when sold as FDA-approved GHB products (such as Xyrem), it is considered Schedule III. Therefore, Xyrem is not available at regular retail pharmacies. In addition, when taken repeatedly at low doses, a person can develop a tolerance to the effects of the drug.
This means they’ll need to take more of the drug to get the same effects. GHB is also sold illicitly as supplements for bodybuilding and as a party drug.
Common Slang Terms for GHB
- Grievous Bodily Harm
- Georgia Home Boy
- Liquid ecstasy
The Immediate Effects
GHB is produced naturally in the body as a metabolite of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in small amounts. (GABA/Gamma-aminobutyric acid – a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain)
Though its mechanism of activity isn’t entirely clear, the molecule itself may have some action as a GABA-B receptor agonist. When consumed as a drug, the intoxicating influences of GHB may be challenging to distinguish from those of other CNS depressant substances. GHB has a range of short-term effects. Often lasting between 2-4 hours, and these may include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Increased sociability
Although some users see the intoxicating effects of GHB as pleasing, it can be a hazardous substance. The range between safe and toxic is minimal, and there is no antidote for GHB overdose. Furthermore, at large doses, GHB can result in a variety of hazardous side effects, including:
- Memory Loss
- Visual Hallucinations
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Reduced Body Temperature
- Slowed Heart Rate
- Respiratory Depression
- Decreased Muscle Tone
As with other sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, some GHB users may be at risk of a paradoxical reaction distinguished by aggressive or excited behavior. As a result, their actions may be unpredictable and can double their risk of injury due to accident or assault with impaired judgment and coordination.
The risk of overdose increases when GHB is combined with other drugs such as alcohol. High doses of GHB, even without other illicit substances or alcohol, may result in profound sedation, seizures, coma, severe respiratory depression, and death.
Common signs of GHB overdose include:
- Loss of a gag reflex
- Loss of control over bodily movements
- Shaking, tremors, or seizures
- Loss of consciousness and unresponsiveness
- Absence of pain response
- Rapid side-to-side eye movement
- Profuse sweating
- Lowered body temperature
- Breathing that has slowed below 15-20 breaths per minute (respiratory depression)
Avoiding overdose cases and dependence on these drugs with a GHB detox program in a treatment facility.
GHB Withdrawal Symptoms
GHB is a dangerous substance, and its chronic use can negatively impact a person’s health. It has a short duration of effects and is cleared from the body quickly. Because of this, users may experience a relatively rapid onset of withdrawal—typically within a few hours after the last use of the drug. The acute GHB withdrawal syndrome may include signs and symptoms such as:
GHB detox: High doses of GHB may result in profound sedation, seizures, coma, and death.
Severe cases of withdrawal from GHB can be life-threatening if not appropriately managed. For this reason, detoxing under supervision is crucial.
GHB Detox Withdrawal Timeline
1-24 hours after the last dose
Symptoms of withdrawal typically begin to appear within the first day of starting GHB detox.
1-5 days after the last dose
During the first week of GHB detox, withdrawal symptoms increase in intensity and may include nervousness, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, delirium, confusion, insomnia, and hallucinations.
2 weeks after the last dose
For some people, any remaining symptoms of withdrawal will be mild at this point. However, others may experience lingering withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, and cognitive problems for months after the GHB detox.
Withdrawal Management  focuses on the following:
- Prevention of severe withdrawal
- Reducing the risk of injury (self/others) due to altered mental state
- Reducing the risk of dehydration, electrolyte, and nutritional imbalance
- Preventing Seizures
- Identification and treatment of concurrent medical conditions that can mask or mimic withdrawal or complicate the withdrawal process
Evaluation, GHB Detox, Treatment
By evaluating the details of your substance use history, they can better assess factors such as addiction severity, the magnitude of physical dependence, and the possibility of a severe and complicated withdrawal to guide their recommendations for the suitable level of treatment.
The course of either inpatient or outpatient substance treatment will vary greatly, depending on the needs of the individual, including how severe their addiction to GHB is if they are using other drugs and if they have other mental health issues in addition to addiction.
Safe GHB Detox
Detoxing at an inpatient rehab facility is the safest way to overcome GHB withdrawal and start the path to recovery. GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyrate, is a naturally occurring chemical produced by the human body. However, consumed GHB can be synthesized and consumed in large amounts; it can cause intense intoxication and addiction. When the brain produces GHB naturally, it is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor cells. 
GHB Detox Therapy
In practical terms, you may find your addiction easier or more challenging to break than someone else. Medical supervision is a vital part of the process, as the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms of GHB can be pretty disturbing for you. The critical thing to remember with GHB addiction treatment is that you are not alone. The right rehab will let you spend time in GHB addiction treatment therapy sessions, where you can explore the reasons why you started GHB. This will help you avoid a relapse in the future after your treatment is over. Therapies may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, motivational interviewing, motivational incentives, and multidimensional family therapy.
Medically Assisted GHB Detox and Treatment
Many forms of treatment are available, but the first step towards a successful GHB recovery is detox. GHB withdrawal management requires care from detox specialists. Medically–assisted GHB detox removes the element of needless suffering and minimizes the potential risks of GHB withdrawal.
Avoiding prolonged withdrawal and easing the GABA receptors will improve the person’s mood and physical experience. Also, it reduces the risk of relapse early in treatment. It is crucial to reduce psychological and physical distress as much as possible to rehabilitate and enter an evidence-based GHB detox program safely.
If the person is an intense user, they may experience overwhelming withdrawal symptoms during detox. But even in severe cases of GHB withdrawal, one of the best ways to cleanse the body, prevent discomfort, and avoid complications is through a well-managed medication-assisted treatment (MAT). During MAT, a recovering user may be prescribed medications to relieve physical and emotional withdrawal discomforts like tremors, cravings, and anxiety.
Following GHB detox, most clients will receive recommendations to continue with their addiction treatment. Any addiction treatment program for GHB should be integrated with individual or group therapy, mixed with non-addictive medications as needed, to reduce anxiety and depression.
Typically, treatment continues in the form of inpatient rehab, with a particular focus on the following aspects of addiction recovery:
- Relapse Prevention
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Individual and Group Therapy
- 12-Step Program Work
- Family Therapy
- Chemical Dependency Education
To start reclaiming your life from addiction and undergo a comfortable GHB detox, you may contact us here at Level Up Palm Beach County, and we will guide you to recovery. Seek medical care immediately if you have taken too much GHB/GBL. So, do not use other drugs in the hope of reversing the effects.