Could you be addicted to GHB?
If so, you are NOT alone!
- Fill out this form if you are addicted or to help a family member or friend.
- If you are a doctor or addiction center with knowledge re treating GHB addiction, please contact us so that we can include you in our referrals.
- If you have gone through a GHB/GBL medical detox, in-patient rehab, and/or outpatient rehab, etc: PLEASE advise us of the facility (name, address and phone number and doctor) and then describe your experience and whether or not you would recommend it for future referrals.
GHB—Addictive With Prolonged & Potentially Severe Withdrawal Syndrome
But You CAN Beat The G-Monster
NOTE: Some have written us that of info on GHB withdrawal syndrome is too frightening and that it scares people from seeking help. On the one hand, we certianly don't want to discourage anyone from trying to kick the G-Monster. But, on the other hand, we do want everyone to understand how serious GHB withdrawal syndrome CAN be so that they don't set out too casually and then give up. Also, especially if heavily medicated, the patient may not realize hos serious it was (just ask the loved one who watched you go through it) and feel that, oh well, I can always kick it again.
Getting off GHB indeed is a serious matter,
but it is worth the battle to live free of G.
Contrary to the misinformation that GHB is a totally safe, benign, non-addictive drug, GHB is in fact addictive and the withdrawal syndrome is prolonged (10-14 days) with potentially severe symptoms. Withdrawal from severe alcohol delirium tremens, benzodiazepine drugs (such as Valium-diazepam, Ativan-lorazepam, Xanax-clonazepam, etc.) and GHB can in fact be fatal. It is a common misconception that heroin withdrawal is the “worst” withdrawal, but heroin withdrawal in itself isn’t fatal. Despite the documented severity and duration of GHB withdrawal syndrome, very, very few treatment centers and even emergency rooms are familiar with it. Thus proper treatment is often hard to find. But for those addicted to GHB it is indeed worth the fight. Life without GHB/GBL/BD as your master is life worth living. Hang in there and press for proper treatment. We will help you in any way that we can. Proper detox is the key to healthy recovery.
Hard cold reality---GHB withdrawal syndrome is potentially severe, should not be attempted “cold turkey” at home alone, is difficult to do by weaning down (weaning keeps you on edge too long to tolerate), and lasts 10-14 days. The best chance to succeed is with informed medical supervision (whether inpatient or outpatient) and a support system of friends and family to see you through it. The aftermath of GHB addiction typically involves some depression and anxiety, lasting weeks for some and months for others. It is difficult for many to get a good sleep pattern going again. After detoxing there is a risky period, a time to balance carefully any need for legitimate medications to deal with the depression/anxiety/sleeplessness with the risk of becoming addicted to other drugs or driven right back to GHB. Understand the risks and prepare for the worst…..and then kiss the ground if you are able to get off safely and relatively easily with few problems afterwards!
Myth—GHB has a short half-life (true), so in about four hours it is out of your system and there is no further withdrawal. We have reports of this being told over and over to GHB addicts seeking help. If the intake personnel or counselor or doctor says this to you---run! You are in a place that has absolutely no knowledge about GHB . Worst yet, they have MISinformation.
Myth---GHB, oh that’s just Liquid Ecstasy, so that’s a stimulant and thus there would be no withdrawal from that. We’ve heard this from Dallas, Texas, to Manchester, England. Frightening misinformation. “Liquid Ecstasy” is indeed one of the SLANG terms for GHB but it is not a medical or chemical term and thus is meaningless in terms of classifying a drug. GHB is unrelated to MDMA (Ecstasy) in any chemical or medical way. It is NOT a stimulant. It is typically classified as a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant, though more accurately it is a dissociative anesthetic. It’s more like a cross between alcohol an d PCP in terms of effects.
Myth—OK, it’s day three and he’s talking fine and wants to go home. He’s been here long enough. Time to go. GHB withdrawal IS 10-14 days. Days 4-6 are often the worst. People (medicated or not) often don’t remember the first 10 days or so of the withdrawal, no matter how “OK” they seemed to be during that time period.
Myth—Oh, he hasn’t taken any GHB for 8 days before he came to the clinic so we should be past all the stuff you are talking about regarding a bad withdrawal---This from an addiction professional (with no prior exposure to GHB but lots of years working with addicts), and based solely on what the patient told him. OK, Doc, so he didn’t tell you that he totaled his car (while on GHB) LAST night before coming to your clinic with his dad this morning? Addicts lie and manipulate. It’s part of the disease syndrome. Take their promises and info with a grain of salt!
Myth—Oh, we had a GHB addict once and you are wrong. There is no withdrawal syndrome at all. This from an addiction professional with no prior exposure to GHB. The patient was there only three days and was allowed to bring in his eye drop, nasal spray and mouthwash bottles. Huhm, of course there was no GHB withdrawal syndrome…….because there was no GHB withdrawal. The patient was taking GHB the whole time he was there because bottles of liquid aren’t what the label says but rather their stash of GHB. We’ve even had patients taking GHB the entire time they were in court-mandated addiction treatment because the intake folks allowed them to walk in with 16 ounce bottles of water or Gatorade. In at least one case the intake worker realized it was not water, but just let it through anyway. And, they have allowed friends to visit, bringing bottles of liquids with them. And, I’m talking about patients who were known to be GHB addicts, not just addicts in general.
How Project GHB can help you
We have heard from more than 3,000 GHB addicts in 20 countries. The USA, UK and Canada are currently (2009/2010) keeping us the busiest with help requests. We work hard to get adequate medical help for anyone who asks. We know of doctors/facilities experienced with GHB withdrawal syndrome in some key areas (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Tampa, New York, Atlanta have the best resources that we’ve found). Our book, “G’d Up 24/7: The GHB Addiction Guide,” includes information that doctors anywhere can utilize to get a GHB addict through withdrawal, plus crucial information for the addicted person and for friends/family who need to understand what is happening and to help them through it. We will supply key chapters electronically as needed in order to provide treatment information for any doctor willing to learn and get a GHB addict through the maze. We also have doctors who are willing to communicate via phone or email with doctors faced with GHB addiction cases. And we also have recovering GHB addicts who are willing to mentor anyone through this battle. They graciously stay in touch with us and have helped many as they confront the G-Monster.
We know that for many lack of insurance or limited insurance or fear of employers hearing the word “addiction” presents a problem for many. GHB withdrawal syndrome is ideally treated inpatient but can be managed in many cases outpatient with proper medical supervision. Substituting alcohol, self-medicating with pills bought off the street or Internet or from friends is not a good idea. Some of the drugs used to treat withdrawal are themselves addictive and proper tapering from those drugs when detox is finished is important.
There is a difference between “detox” and “rehab” and this is important. Most crucial is “detox” and it should be done WITH proper medications, not toughing it out “cold turkey,” etc. Once the detox period is over, some will need a rehab period to help reset lifestyle, regain balance and become safer from relapse. But, relapse is also a common reality and if it happens, it’s just another bump in the road……….you have to just get back up and keep on truckin’.
Who becomes addicted to GHB?
The majority of GHB addicts who have come to Project GHB for help have been bodybuilders or athletes of some degree, from casual gym goers to entertainment wrestlers and professional players in a variety of sports. GHB abuse is closely linked to steroid use though it remains the sports world’s dark secret.
Partygoers who take it occasionally or just on weekends are less likely to become addicted but some in the party/club arena do become addicted. We’ve heard from a number of rave or club DJs, for example, who lived the lifestyle and got hooked on G.
We’ve even had a significant group of seniors who were introduced to GHB when trying to get fit or they told it is anti-aging (such as Nick Nolte, the actor who was arrested for DUI on GHB).
Another grouping of GHB addiction cases comes from chronic pain patients, fibromyalgia patients & those with chronic sleep problems, yes, even some of those prescribed Xyrem (GHB). Again, many are sadly told that GHB is safe and non-addictive. GHB should not be used by anyone with prior addiction issues or mental health issues or sleep apnea diagnosis, yet that also seems to be a sad “secret.”
Going into a regular drug withdrawal program without a doctor specifically experienced with GHB (or who isn’t willing to read published materials about it and accept that this may be a very new experience) can be dangerous; so is trying to do it on your own. If you are addicted to GHB and get arrested, you need to make it very, very clear to the jail staff that you need MEDICAL help and we can provide the information that they need. This IS a serious situation, even in only for a few days. Be sure that a family member also knows what is going on and helps facilitate getting the information for them and monitors whether or not you are being helped. Being strapped down in a chair or left in isolation unattended or given an occasional Benadryl capsule is NOT medical care and can be life endangering.
Be persistent in seeking professional help to get through this; be an advocate for your own life and health.