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GHB Abuse On The Rise Among Teens

Have you heard of GHB?

You may not have yet, but its use is increasing. Once limited to large warehouse scenes such as "raves," GHB is showing up at parties, perhaps in neighborhoods like yours. It gives the user a feeling of euphoria, that everything is fine. GHB, like alcohol, is a central nervous system depressant that takes only minutes to make a user lose control, forget what is happening, or lose consciousness. GHB is colorless, odorless, and has a slightly salty taste. The synthetic form of GHB contains some of the same ingredients as floor stripper and industrial cleaners.

GHB was first developed as a general anesthetic, but because it did not work very well to prevent pain, its use as an anesthetic declined. The observation that GHB may cause the release of growth hormone led some people, especially athletes and body-builders, to take it because they thought it would increase muscle development.

Before 1990, GHB was available as a dietary supplement, and as such was not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. In 1990, after numerous reports that GHB caused illness, the FDA began investigating the drug. It is now classified as an illegal substance.

GHB has been grouped with other drugs in the "date-rape drug" category such as Rohypnol, because it can be slipped easily into a drink and given to an unsuspecting victim, who often does not remember being assaulted. GHB is especially dangerous when combined with alcohol.

The same dose of GHB can have variable effects in different people. A dose that makes one person feel euphoric can make another person sick. The US Drug Enforcement Agency has linked GHB to 58 deaths since 1990 and there have been at least 5,700 overdoses recorded since then. Moreover, there are some reports that GHB can cause dependence. Treatment of GHB overdoses is difficult because it is difficult for emergency room doctors to detect the drug.

Here are some additional facts on GHB—

1. Different forms of GHB: An odorless, colorless liquid form; also white powder material.

2. How it's used: Swallowed (in liquid or powder form, which is mixed with water, or as tablets); usually ingested in a liquid mixture; most commonly mixed with alcohol.

3. How much GHB costs: GHB is usually sold by the capful, and sells for $5 to $25 per cap.

4. Some of the consequences of GHB use: In lower doses, GHB causes drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and visual disturbances. At higher dosages, unconsciousness, seizures, severe respiratory depression, and coma can occur. Overdoses usually require emergency room treatment, including intensive care for respiratory depression and coma. GHB has been used in the commission of sexual assaults because it renders the victim incapable of resisting, and may cause memory problems that could complicate case prosecution.

5. Some other names for it: Liquid Ecstasy, G, Georgia homeboy, cups, Scoop, Easy Lay, Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid X, and Goop.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Who uses it: GHB has become popular among teens and young adults at dance clubs and “raves”. Body builders sometimes use GHB for its alleged anabolic effects.

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