GHB addiction

GHB is one of the most feared illegal drugs, notorious for its association with date rape and its ability to incapacitate unsuspecting victims. Despite this grim reputation, GHB is still abused as a recreational drug by some people who seek its euphoric and sedative properties. This misuse can swiftly spiral into GHB addiction, which can ensnare individuals in a relentless cycle of cravings, consumption and severe risks to mental and physical health. Understanding the gravity of GHB addiction is essential for anyone who is using the drug to seek timely, professional help.

What is GHB?

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant that produces sedative and euphoric effects. Originally synthesised in the 1960s, GHB has been used in various medical settings, including as an anaesthetic and in the treatment of conditions like narcolepsy and alcoholism, but medical use is strictly regulated due to its potential for abuse.

GHB is consumed orally, typically as an odourless, colourless liquid, a bright blue liquid called “Blue Nitro”, or sometimes, a crystalline powder. The drug’s effects are dose-dependent, ranging from mild relaxation and euphoria at lower doses to deep sedation, unconsciousness and even coma at higher doses. This narrow margin between a recreational and a dangerous dose makes GHB particularly risky.

In the UK, GHB is classified as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act. This legal stance reflects the drug’s significant potential for harm, including its use as a date rape drug due to its ability to impair cognition and memory when used in high doses.

What are GHB’s street names?

GHB is known by various street names, which often reflect its appearance, effects or notoriety. Some common street names include:

  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • G
  • Fantasy
  • Georgia Home Boy
  • Juice
  • Liquid X
  • Blue Nitro

What is GHB addiction?

GHB addiction is a chronic condition that creates an uncontrollable urge to consume the drug despite the harmful consequences. The addiction process usually begins with experimental or recreational use, but with extensive, frequent use, the person can become tolerant to its effects, meaning increasingly larger doses are needed.

Tolerance can quickly result in physical dependence on GHB, marked by the body’s adaptation to the drug and its reliance on its presence to function normally. This dependence fuels the compulsion to use GHB, propelling the individual further into the throes of GHB addiction. At this point, they lose all control over use, the hallmark of drug addiction, where obtaining and consuming GHB becomes the primary focus of their person’s life, at the expense of health, relationships and responsibilities.

It is important to understand that the development of GHB addiction is often insidious, with many users initially unaware of the grip the substance is gaining over them. This gradual escalation from voluntary use to compulsive behaviour demonstrates the deceptive nature of addiction, where what starts as a choice morphs into a physical and psychological need.

Am I addicted to GHB?

Recognising the signs of GHB addiction is crucial for seeking timely help, but this can be challenging due to the drug’s deceptive nature. Individuals often fall into a pattern of denial, underestimating the extent of their use and its impact on their lives.

If you are concerned about possible GHB addiction, consider these questions:

  • Do you use GHB more frequently or in larger amounts than you intended?
  • Have you attempted to cut down or stop using GHB but failed?
  • Do you spend a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of GHB?
  • Do you experience strong cravings or urges to use GHB?
  • Has your GHB use led to neglect of responsibilities at work, school or home?
  • Do you continue to use GHB despite it causing these problems?
  • Have you given up or reduced important activities because of GHB use?
  • Do you use GHB in situations where it is physically hazardous?

Answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions may indicate a GHB addiction and the need for professional help.

What causes GHB addiction?

GHB addiction, like other substance use disorders, arises from a complex interplay of factors that increase a person’s susceptibility. Understanding these risk factors can provide insights into the mechanics of addiction and help develop targeted prevention and treatment strategies. Common risk factors include:

Genetic predisposition
Individuals with a family history of substance abuse are at a higher risk of developing addiction themselves. This means that if your direct family has struggled with addiction, you may be more susceptible to GHB addiction yourself.
Psychological factors
Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can increase the likelihood of using substances like GHB as a form of self-medication, leading to dependency and addiction.
Social influences
Peer pressure, social environments that condone or encourage drug use and lack of social support can all contribute to the initiation and continuation of GHB use.
Availability and accessibility
Easy access to GHB, especially in certain nightlife or party scenes, can encourage experimentation and regular use, escalating to GHB addiction.
Trauma and stress
Individuals who have experienced trauma or who face chronic stress may turn to GHB for its sedative and euphoric effects, increasing the risk of GHB addiction.
Early use
Initiating drug use at a young age can interfere with normal brain development and increase the likelihood of developing substance use disorders, including GHB addiction.

These factors, individually or in combination, can set the stage for GHB addiction, which is why a multifaceted approach to prevention and treatment is required.

What are the side effects of GHB addiction and abuse?

GHB abuse addiction can have several short-term health effects, which vary depending on the amount consumed and the frequency of use. Some of the common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness or excessive sleepiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Impaired judgement and cognitive function
  • Unconsciousness or blackouts
  • Respiratory depression
  • Increased sexual drive but decreased ability to consent or remember events

These effects not only pose immediate health risks but also increase the likelihood of accidents, risky behaviours and adverse social consequences.

What are the long-term effects of GHB addiction?

As well as the short-term effects, long-term GHB addiction can lead to a range of serious health and lifestyle consequences. Understanding these dangers is crucial for recognising the gravity of GHB addiction and the importance of seeking treatment.

  • Neurological impact: Chronic use of GHB can lead to persistent cognitive deficits, including problems with memory, attention and decision-making processes.
  • Mental health issues: Prolonged GHB abuse is associated with a greatly increased risk of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and psychosis.
  • Physical health decline: Long-term use can result in physical health problems like liver and kidney damage, cardiovascular issues and sexual dysfunction.
  • Social and relational problems: GHB addiction can strain relationships, lead to social isolation and cause difficulties in maintaining employment and fulfilling responsibilities.
  • Risk of overdose: The narrow margin between the recreational and lethal doses of GHB means there is a high risk of accidental overdose. GHB overdose can be fatal, especially when combined with other substances like alcohol or sedatives.

Addressing GHB addiction requires comprehensive intervention to mitigate these long-term effects and support recovery and rehabilitation.

What does treatment for GHB addiction involve?

GHB addiction treatment typically starts with detox, a medically supervised process to safely manage withdrawal symptoms. Due to the potential severity of GHB withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety and tremors, GHB detox should be conducted in a specialised facility like Sanctuary Lodge with healthcare professionals experienced in managing substance withdrawal.

Following drug detox, GHB rehab involves a combination of therapies tailored to the individual’s needs. This includes psychological counselling, behavioural therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and ongoing aftercare. This approach aims to address the underlying causes of GHB addiction, develop coping strategies for triggers and cravings and foster a supportive community for recovery. Sanctuary Lodge’s drug rehab programme is provided on an inpatient basis and takes a holistic approach that encompasses mental, physical and social aspects of recovery.

How to get help for GHB addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with GHB addiction, seeking help is a crucial first step towards recovery. Sanctuary Lodge specialises in treating GHB addiction, offering a comprehensive approach to recovery that includes detox, personalised therapy and aftercare planning. Our team of professionals is dedicated to providing the support and care needed to overcome GHB addiction and rebuild a healthy, substance-free life. Don’t let GHB addiction control your life any longer. Reach out to Sanctuary Lodge today and start your journey to recovery.


Can I die from GHB overdose?
Yes, it is possible to die from a GHB overdose. GHB has a very narrow therapeutic index, meaning there is a small margin between a dose that produces the desired effect and a dose that can be lethal. Overdosing on GHB can lead to respiratory depression, coma and death, especially when combined with other depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines. Immediate medical attention is crucial in the event of a suspected GHB overdose to prevent fatal outcomes.
Are GHB and GBL the same?
GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate) and GBL (Gamma-Butyrolactone) are closely related chemicals but not the same. GBL is a precursor to GHB, meaning that when it is ingested, it is converted into GHB by the body. Both substances are used recreationally for their euphoric and sedative effects, and both carry significant risks of overdose, dependency and addiction.
close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 811 7325