In Drugs & Addictions

The Scary Effects of the GHB Drug

The GHB Drug comes in a variety of street names like “Liquid X,” “Georgia Home Boy,” or “Liquid ecstasy.” Perhaps one of the more telling street monikers for the drug, “Grievous Bodily Harm,” more accurately hints at the devastating effects that GHB, or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate, can have on the body’s central nervous system.

GHB drug has a long history that is best summed up as “the date rape drug.” That is because GHB, along with Rohypnol, have long been linked to drug-facilitated sexual assaults. In fact, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center, GHB has replaced Rohypnol as the drug of choice for these types of crimes. The large number of victims reporting loss of consciousness, as well as memory loss, is what makes GHB the go-to option for drug-assisted sexual assaults.

Equally troubling, now GHB has become the drug of choice for use at clubs among teenagers and young adults. Club drugs like Molly, GHB, cocaine, and Ketamine provide the euphoric high that participants are looking for to keep them fueled up during all night rave parties. This increased popularity puts more GHB into our communities and family and friends frequently have no idea what to look for when their loved ones are under the influence of the drug.

The health effects of GHB usage are serious, and putting a stop to its use includes increasing the dialogue regarding the devastating side effects that this drug has on its recreational users and victims alike. To discover what is GHB drug, we need to get the GHB facts.

|SEE ALSO: Are Teens Hooked on Club Drugs?|

History of GHB

Medicinally speaking, GHB, first synthesized in the 1920s and is a quickly acting depressant on the central nervous system, and was considered for its anesthetic properties in the 1960s, but the substance’s first widespread use was found as a performance-enhancing addition to body building formulas. Allegedly, the performance enhancing elements served as a growth hormone that released chemical agents designed to boost muscle growth, and was readily available in health food stores across the country.

Owing to its propensity to cause euphoric and hallucinogenic states, the United States Food and Drug Administration banned its use in 1990. A decade later, the drug was listed as a Schedule I Controlled Substance in 2000. Today, GHB is sold in some European countries for anesthesia purposes.

Banned for more than two decades in the United States, the vast majority of the drugs that are in circulation are manufactured in clandestine labs that, obviously, offer no form of guarantees as regards the quality and purity of the drug. Recipes are readily available online, and the costs of ingredients are relatively cheap, so there continues to be a ready supply to meet the rising demand on the club scene.

Date Rape Drug

X-marked the victim at a recent fraternity party held off campus of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter. Police were called several times to the raucous Friday night festivities when they noticed several students exhibiting signs of being dosed with a so-called date-rape drug. GHB drug effects include headaches, nausea, sweating, sluggishness, and confusion. As police officials developed their investigation, it was noted that three of the victim, all described as pretty, were marked with a red X on their hands by the party’s doorman. The fourth victim, a male, had drunk from one of the women’s drinks.

Police have announced that one person has been arrested in connection with the event, and point out that their investigation is still ongoing. For its part, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has severed ties with the fraternity until the investigation is complete. Records indicate that the fraternity chapter had been investigated multiple times in 2013 for sexual assaults, but charges were never filed in those cases.

While charges were never filed, the fraternity’s reputation preceded the Friday night party.

FaceBook postings in advance of the party discussed the member’s tendency to “roofie” unsuspecting women at previous gatherings. Party gusts report seeing clear drinks like gin and vodka that appeared cloudy.

The fact is, a culture of sexual exploitation exists, and the prevalence of binge drinking and an available supply of date-rape agents like the GHB drug are fueling the epidemic.

A Manicure that Monitors

Concerned by the rise in drug-facilitated sexual assaults, four college students from North Carolina State University have devised a new nail polish, dubbed “Undercover Colors,” which purportedly changes color if they come into contact and detect the presence of common date rape agents like the GHB drug in their drinks.

To determine whether her drink has been dosed, a woman merely has to stir her drink with her finger and wait to see whether the nail polish changes color in the presence of the GHB drug. While there are other products out there capable of detecting the drug like cups, straws, or coasters, the students who devised “Undercover Colors” are confident that this latest addition will be the most convenient for women moving about in a crowded party or bar scene.

The new method is not without its critics, however.

Critics say that the new technology relies on an old paradigm in which blame and punishment is meted out to victims rather than perpetrators.

“Well intentioned products like anti-rape nail polish can actually end up fueling victim blaming,” writes Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress. “Another problem is that it detracts from finding real solutions. At the end of the day, we have to start having the hard conversations with students, particularly those men who are likely to commit a sexual assault to end this epidemic.”

Despite the criticism, there is also evidence of enthusiasm surrounding the sleuthing nail polish. The four undergraduate students have taken first prize in a North Carolina State student competition that pushed students to work towards developing real world solutions to real world problems, and have reportedly garnered $100,000 from an investor interested in the potential.

What is GHB Drug Effects

When one decides to take the GHB drug recreationally, they have certain expectations regarding the experience. For instance, the drug significantly heightens sex drive and boosts feelings of euphoria in the user who seemingly float in the tranquility that the drug imposes on the user. Additionally, for those who enjoy the psychedelic properties of the drug, they note the presence of auditory and visual hallucinations as reasons for their continued abuse of the drug.

As mentioned however, the elicit nature of the manufacturing process means that there are no guarantees regarding the quality of the drug going into their systems. Further, under the chaotic environment that reigns at an all night rave, it is easy for participants to forget to keep adequately hydrated, which serves to exacerbate the negative effects and symptoms of the drug.

Depending on the dose, the GHB drug effects might last as long as four hours during which the user is expected to be dancing to high intensity techno-music in crowds that can number in the hundreds or thousands. The increased body heat that all these people are throwing off makes it very easy for participants to collapse owing to heat exhaustion.

Serious Side Effects

Users of GHB get their first inclination that the drug is working about twenty minutes after ingestion. A drop in breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels accompanies the rise in euphoria. Additionally, when taken in conjunction with alcohol, the level of potential harm increases exponentially, and overdoses can occur quickly sometimes leading to comas and even death.

Some of the signs of GHB drug dosing include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Amnesia
  • Coma
  • Death

Studies also suggest that the addictive potential of GHB is heightened with repeated usage. For those suffering from withdrawal, they report instances of insomnia, tremors, anxiety, and sweating. Not only are these withdrawal symptoms debilitating, they can be quite severe and incapacitating.

For medical professionals confronted with increased cases of rave related overdoses, GHB detection methods are not readily available in emergency room situations. As such, attending doctors may be unaware that their patient has been abusing club drugs. The drug’s short half-life makes discovery through urinalysis problematic, and the primary treatment regime remains supportive care and efforts to keep the patient’s airway open.

Rise in Popularity

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, the rave scene took off in Europe during the 1990s before being imported to the United States. Huge commercial affairs, these events were typically stages in abandoned warehouses, out of the way fields, and rented out nightclubs. A big business, rave sponsors hire DJs, venues, security and provide refreshments, which are sold at hugely inflated prices, and advertise these parties as drink-free events that are suggestive of a kid-friendly event. Of course, they are anything but kid friendly events.

Regional DEA offices note a spike in usage in fifteen different urban areas including Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Diego, Philadelphia, Newark, and Minneapolis among some of the areas.

Many of these areas advise that the spike in GHB availability occurred concomitantly with a rise in rave activity.

The report also points out that what was once an urban phenomenon is now spreading out to rural areas with abandoned barns replacing the ubiquitous abandoned warehouse of the cityscape. The majority of users are middle class white males between the ages of 18 and 30, and they typically buy the product packages in plastic bottles with a cap-full dose ranging in price from $5 to $20.

DEA informants note that there is no effort to disguise this drug usage with dosing occurring right out in the open. Security, when present, ignores the practice, and is woefully unprepared to administer life saving procedures in the event of an overdosing.

Parents who are worried about their teenage children and young adults headed off to a new life on a college campus, it is critical that they sit down and have an honest and frank discussion regarding the inherent dangers of taking the GHB drug.

In all likelihood, the child will brush off these demonstrations of parental concern, but you can’t let their attitude waylay your message regarding the very real dangers that are present when GHB is used. As the example of the alleged actions of University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee’s Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter clearly shows, one needs not be a willing participant to suffer the dangerous side effects of GHB.

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