What is GHB or date rape drug?

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Gamma-hydroxy-butyric acid, or GHB, is a synthetic drug originally used in medicine.

Renowned for its sedative, anxiolytic, amnesic and euphoric properties, GHB has been diverted for recreational purposes. It comes in the form of a soluble white powder, a transparent and odorless liquid or a cachet. It is most often taken orally.

It is consumed illicitly in festive circles, particularly at student parties and in nightclubs. Consumption sometimes without the knowledge of the victims, hence the name: “rape drug”.

What is the medical use of GHB?

The use of GHB is very restricted and strictly supervised in medicine. It is indicated for the treatment of sleep disorders such as narcolepsy in adult patients, adolescents and children.

GHB is easily and quickly absorbed by the brain and induces sleep close to physiological sleep with a good quality awakening.

It also has indications in anesthesiology and in the treatment of alcohol addiction.

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What are the effects of GHB, the “date rape drug”?

The effects of GHB depend on several factors such as:

• age
• the weight
• the quantity absorbed
• the frequency of consumption
• the duration of consumption
• method of administration
• the surrounding environment
• medical or psychiatric history
• simultaneous use of alcohol or other drugs

The sedative, anxiolytic and euphoric properties of GHB have diverted GHB from its therapeutic indications for illegal use.

At low to moderate doses, GHB provides an impression of well-being, peace of mind, hypersensitivity, slight euphoria, a consequent lifting of inhibition and a feeling of intoxication comparable to that of alcohol.

In high doses, it presents a real danger. Its effects are those of a powerful soporific: the consumer can be plunged into a very deep sleep. Taken by injection or orally in a drink, it can cause malaise, memory loss, vomiting and a feeling of absence. An overdose of GHB can lead to a deep coma that can lead to death following a drop in blood pressure, respiratory arrest or hypothermia, for example.

Why has GHB become “the date rape drug”?

Taking GHB with alcohol causes a hypnotic action, lack of memory on waking and even convulsions or comas.

Its odorless and colorless shape and its sedative and amnesic effects make it suitable for criminal use. Badly caring people use it for dishonest purposes (sexual abuse, theft, assault, etc.). It can be poured, without your knowledge, into your drink, without changing its taste or appearance.

It is its amnesic nature which reinforces its dangerousness since the abused person does not always remember what happened to him.

Be careful and pay attention to your drink, especially in a festive environment!

GHB in what forms?

There are two similar substances, GBL (gamma butyro lactone acid) and BD (butane diol) which are chemical substances sold as industrial solvents. These substances convert to GHB in the body. They have the same effects and pose the same risks. Cases of GBL poisoning have regularly been reported in recent years.

GHB is found in liquid form, it can be drunk or injected. It looks like water. It is odorless and can taste slightly salty, easily masked in a drink.

GHB is also found in the form of white powder or capsules. In this form, GHB can be diluted in liquid.

Why is GHB difficult to detect in the body?

GHB is particularly difficult to detect because it is eliminated from the body after an average of twelve hours. It remains present in the blood for a few hours and in the urine for less than 12 hours. In case of suspected absorption of GHB, analyzes must be carried out in a specialized analysis laboratory.

What precautions should be taken ?

Malicious people who wish to use GHB for the purpose of sexual abuse, rape or assault generally choose dark, festive places where alcohol is tolerated and vigilance is low. Nightclubs, for example, represent an ideal terrain.

Alcohol increases the amnesic effects of this substance, so you can pour a discreet dose into the victim’s glass of alcohol. The first effects are felt after 15 to 20 minutes and last about 1 hour.

This is why some establishments offer their customers straw-capped glasses. A method to fight against GHB.

In the evening, public or private, you must:

• watch your drink. Keep it in your hand and don’t hesitate to cover it when you look away
• avoid drinking from another person’s glass or consuming a drink that has not been served in front of you
• avoid accepting drinks offered by strangers except when they are served in front of you
• designate a team captain who will take care of the group
• Avoid dissociating yourself from the group.

If you have doubts about the course of an evening, that you have no memory of it, do not hesitate to get tested quickly.

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