GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate) addiction

GHB, or Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate, is a powerful drug that is illegal in many countries, including the UK, because of its high potential for abuse and addiction. GHB has also become synonymous with the awful crime of date rape because it is sometimes used to spike drinks. GHB abuse can be very dangerous, particularly when combined with alcohol or other drugs, and it can lead to a physical and emotional dependency if overused. A reliance on this drug requires professional GHB addiction treatment as soon as possible because, if left untreated, it can lead to serious consequences. Luckily, support is available for you whenever you are ready to open up and fight your GBH addiction for good.

GHB addiction drugs

What is GHB?

GHB is a central nervous system depressant that was first developed in the 1960s as a general anaesthetic. It was then trialled as a treatment for narcolepsy and other sleep disorders but was never approved for these uses. In the 1980s, bodybuilders began using GHB as a steroid alternative because it was thought to release growth hormone which would help them bulk up, but there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In the 1980s and 90s, GHB became a popular party drug because it produces feelings of euphoria, relaxation and increased sex drive. It is sometimes known as “liquid ecstasy”, “G” or “fantasy”.

GHB is a clear, odourless liquid that tastes slightly salty. It is usually sold in small bottles or capsules and is often mixed with alcohol. GHB can also be found in powder form but this is less common. The effects of GHB depend on the dose taken but can range from mild intoxication to coma and death. GHB is particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs because it can cause unconsciousness and respiratory failure. It is sometimes used as a date rape drug by spiking the drink of the unknowing victim so that they become incapacitated and can be sexually assaulted.

In the UK, GHB is classified as a Class C drug, which means that it is illegal to possess, supply, produce, import or export GHB with a maximum sentence of fourteen years in prison and an unlimited fine. It is also illegal to administer GHB to anyone and that carries a sentence of ten years in prison.

How does GHB addiction develop?

GHB abuse can very quickly lead to tolerance when the body becomes used to the presence of GHB and requires more and more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. As tolerance builds, users may start to experience GHB withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop taking the drug, which can include anxiety, insomnia, tremors and seizures. These GHB withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that users may feel that they need to keep taking GHB just to make the symptoms go away.

After tolerance builds, dependence may develop and at this stage, and users will feel that they need GHB just to function normally. They may start to suffer from cravings and may find that they cannot control their use of GHB even if they want to. As dependence builds, users may start to experience more severe GHB withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit including delirium, hallucinations and severe anxiety. At this point, GHB abuse can be incredibly damaging to your health and every aspect of your life and it is when you continue to use GHB despite these negative consequences that you have a GHB addiction.

What are the risk factors for developing GHB addiction?

Anybody who engages in GHB abuse has the potential to become addicted but there are certain factors that can make somebody more likely to develop a GHB addiction. These risk factors include:

  • Having a history of addiction or substance abuse in the family
  • Having mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder and using GHB abuse as a way to cope
  • Starting to use GHB at a young age
  • Suffering from trauma and using GHB to mask the thoughts, feelings and emotions caused by the trauma
  • Using GHB regularly or in large doses
  • Using GHB with other drugs or alcohol

What are the health effects of GHB addiction?

GHB abuse and addiction can cause a range of physical and psychological health problems including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Psychosis
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dangerously high blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Increased risk of accident or injury
  • Coma

GHB addiction woman with depression

GHB overdose is also a serious danger with GHB abuse because it is so easy to accidentally take too much of the drug. GHB overdose can cause unconsciousness, seizures, slowed heart rate and respiratory failure which can all lead to death.

Do I need GHB addiction treatment?

GHB abuse and addiction are so dangerous that it is vital to identify GHB addiction as early as possible so you can get the help you need before it’s too late. Take our GHB addiction quiz to see if you could benefit from GHB addiction treatment:

  • Have I lost control over my use of GHB?
  • Do I continue to use GHB despite the negative consequences it is having on my life?
  • Do I experience GHB withdrawal symptoms when I try to quit?
  • Does my use of GHB cause me problems at work, school or home?
  • Have I been in trouble with the law because of my use of GHB?
  • Do I use GHB to cope with my mental health problems?
  • Do I use GHB with other drugs or alcohol?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is likely that you are struggling with a GHB addiction and need professional help to overcome it. Liberty House can offer you that help. We are a leading GHB addiction treatment centre with a proven track record in helping people to overcome their addictions and go on to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

How do GHB abuse and addiction affect your life?

GHB addiction can do all the same damage as other types of drug addiction and affect every area of your life including:

  • Your relationships with friends and family: There are many ways your relationships can be harmed by GHB addiction. The drug can cause you to become more withdrawn, paranoid and aggressive which can lead to arguments and conflict.
  • Employment and education: Your performance at work or school will start to suffer as your GHB addiction takes over your life. You may start to call in sick more often, arrive late or not be able to concentrate on tasks.
  • Finances: Your use of GHB may also put a strain on your finances as you may start to spend more money on the drug or miss work or school because of your GHB addiction. This can result in serious debt, homelessness and all the associated physical and mental health issues.

What does effective GHB addiction treatment involve?

GHB addiction is a complex condition which requires a comprehensive treatment programme to overcome. Effective programmes are made up of three stages: detox, rehab treatment and aftercare.

GHB detox

The first stage of treatment is detoxification which involves removing GHB from your body and helps you break free from physical dependence. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable process as it can cause GHB withdrawal symptoms which can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

GHB addiction nauseous man

The severity and duration of GHB withdrawal vary from person to person depending on factors such as the extent of your GHB abuse and how long you have been using GHB but it will usually peak after two to three days and start to improve after a week or two. At Liberty House, you will be monitored by our team of experienced medical professionals who will make sure you are as comfortable as possible and provide you with any medication you may need to ease your symptoms.

GHB rehab

The next stage of treatment is GHB rehab which helps you to understand your GHB addiction and develop the skills you need to stay sober in the long term. At Liberty House, both detox and GHB rehab take place in our inpatient treatment centre where you will have 24-hour access to support and care and will be shielded from the temptations and triggers of everyday life.

Our GHB rehab programmes include a number of holistic, evidence-based therapies including:

As you progress through our GHB rehab programme, you will start to gain more insight into your addiction and how to manage it.


When you have completed GHB rehab, you will be discharged from our centre but our support does not end there. We offer a comprehensive aftercare service which includes weekly group therapy sessions for a year to provide ongoing peer support and ensure that you are never left alone again to struggle with GHB addiction.

What’s next?

If you or someone you know is struggling with GHB addiction, we can help. Get in touch with Liberty House today to find out more about our GHB recovery programmes and how we can help you get your life back on track.

Frequently asked questions

How can I reduce the risk of GHB relapse?
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of GHB relapse, including:

  • Attending group therapy sessions and other aftercare support
  • Avoiding people, places and things that trigger your urge to use GHB
  • Building a support network of friends and family
  • Developing new interests and hobbies
  • Staying physically healthy by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.
Can I die from a GHB overdose?
There are various ways that GHB overdose can prove fatal. It can cause vomiting which can lead to choking, it can slow down your breathing to the point where it stops altogether and it can also lower your blood pressure to the point where you go into shock. You are also at increased risk of a fatal accident when you abuse GHB as it impairs your judgement and motor skills.
Are GHB and GBL the same?
No, GHB and GBL are not the same. GBL is a chemical precursor to GHB which means that it is converted into GHB by your body. However, GBL is also abused in its own right as it produces similar effects to GHB once it has metabolised and is often easier to obtain as it is found in many household and industrial products.