Updated on February 6, 2024
5 min read

GHB Statistics

GHB, an acronym for Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, is a potent central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Users consume it recreationally due to its disinhibiting and sedating qualities, but others use GHB as a date rape drug.

The lack of knowledge about it has increased the risk of abuse and potential overdoses, so knowing GHB facts and statistics can help you stay safe.

This article will provide helpful information so you can make informed choices regarding your health.

GHB Use Facts & Statistics

  1. Only 0.5% of adults aged 18 and older in the U.S. have used GHB at least once.3
  2. Australia's GHB use over the past four years has remained steady, with 0.1% of people aged 14 and above reporting usage in 2016 and 2019.3
  3. Drug use typically begins later in life than many other substances, with the median age of initiation occurring around 25.3
  4. GHB consumption is relatively low in Europe, with the Netherlands reporting a 0.4% past-year usage rate in 2018. In contrast, data from the UK suggests an increase in prevalence up to 2015 that has now reached its peak. This growth centers within London, without significant evidence in Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.3
  5. Gay and bisexual men in Australia increasingly turn to GHB as a recreational drug, with almost 20% reporting lifetime usage and 5.4% admitting use in 2018.3
  6. In 2020, a survey of 884 people who inject drugs across all Australian states and territories revealed that one in ten had used the substance.3
  7. GHB treatment seekers often use multiple substances, with methamphetamines, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine being the most common. Opioids, Ketamine, and MDMA, are less used with the drug, with under 20% reporting use in treatment cases.3
  8. Young men dominate GHB emergency cases, and 40% compound this risk by combining their use with alcohol or stimulants.3
  9. A substantial majority of those seeking treatment for GHB addiction is male, with nearly nine out of every ten users being men.3
  10. In 2019, 10.6% of those admitted due to drug toxicity and 27% of those who required intensive care upon arrival at European Drug Emergencies Network Plus hospitals had the substance in their systems.3
  11. Australia saw a dramatic increase in ambulance attendance related to GHB toxicity-related problems in 2019, climbing 147% since 2012.3
  12. GHB made up a small portion (0.05%) of reported drug treatments in the U.S. in 2019.3
  13. Heavy users often require a dose every 1 to 3 hours to prevent withdrawal symptoms.3
  14. A person can quickly develop a dependence on the drug within 12 months after their first consumption.3
  15. While the severe effects of withdrawal generally subside within two weeks, some people may experience long-term disruptions in their emotional state, sleep patterns, and general unease.3
  16. 35% of those who regularly use injectable drugs and GHB experienced non-fatal overdoses in 2021.3
  17. Australia recorded 74 GHB-related deaths recorded from 2001 to 2019. England and Wales experienced a plateaued rate of such incidents until 2015; 27 GHB-associated fatalities were noted in 2018.3
  18. GHB dependence can be difficult to overcome due to its high likelihood of relapse at nearly 70%.3

What is GHB?

GHB is a naturally occurring substance found in small quantities in the brain. It's a CNS depressant that affects communication between the brain and body.

As one of the most potent drugs available today, it can cause people to experience profound physical relaxation while reducing their ability to think clearly or move quickly. Other users also believe it helps with weight loss and muscle-building, although this claim is scientifically unproven.1

GHB is a Schedule I drug in the U.S., signifying its dangerous potential for abuse and lack of approved medical use. However, FDA-approved GHB products have since become slated under the less stringent restrictions of Schedule III substances.

Street Names

The substance goes by the names:

  • Georgia Home Boy
  • Easy Lay
  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • Scoop
  • G
  • Liquid X
  • Goop
  • Grievous Bodily Harm
  • Cherry Meth

What Does GHB Look Like?

The substance is typically commoditized as a translucent and slightly salty liquid, often stored in small vials or water bottles for further masking. Alternately, it's available as an odorless, tasteless white powder that people can easily mix into juices or alcoholic beverages to increase its potency.

GHB High

The euphoric high associated with GHB use usually begins 15 to 30 minutes after injection, slipped anally, or swallowed.4 Its psychological effects, which last between 3 to 6 hours, include:1

  • Euphoria
  • The sensation of being in control
  • Increased sociability
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Heightened sex drive

GHB produces unique mental alterations, from visual hallucinations to increased energy and activity. When ingested with depressants like alcohol, the effects become markedly more intense in their ability to slow down central nervous system functions.

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Short & Long-Term Effects of GHB

When taken in small amounts, the drug can induce relaxation and pleasure. And as mentioned above, users also report feeling energized and heightened levels of euphoria.

But the long-term effects of GHB are far more dangerous. These include respiratory arrest, intense anxiety, severe memory problems, hallucinations, and breathing problems.2

Overdose

Since GHB is addictive, those who abuse it also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try and quit:

  • Potential psychotic thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Heightened blood pressure

Unfortunately, no reliable antidote exists that would completely counter the effects of intoxication with this drug or its analogs. Additionally, an overdose can lead to coma and death.

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History of GHB

GHB was first synthesized in the 1960s, eventually leading to its development as an anesthetic agent. People had access to it over the counter until 1990 when it was marketed as a performance-enhancing additive for bodybuilding formulas.

The youth widely adopted the drug in the 1990s, particularly at dance clubs and raves, acquiring a notorious reputation as 'the date rape drug.' GHB also became popular as a sleep aid and an ingredient in aerosol sprays.

But as time progressed, the dangers associated with its recreational use eventually led to the FDA classifying GHB as a Schedule I Controlled Substance in March 2000.

Manufacturers illegally produce GHB in labs, both locally and abroad. People buy it by the capful for $5 to $25 at clubs or gatherings like raves.

Doses of the compound vary widely, from 1 to 5 grams, which is roughly the size of one or two teaspoons. Unfortunately, "home-brewed" concentration and purity differ significantly, making it difficult to calculate a safe quantity.

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Updated on February 6, 2024

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