Warner Park Recovery Center – Woodland Hills Mental Health

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Can You Overdose on GHB?

Overdose is a highly possible outcome for any recreational user of GHB. At doses above 3,500mg, GHB causes rapid unconsciousness. At doses over 7,000mg, a user’s respiratory system and heart begin to slow to life-threatening levels and they may experience heart attacks, convulsions, and vomiting, all while unconscious.

It is not uncommon for a person who has overdosed on GHB to think that everything is fine, display a positive mood, and want to carry on like nothing’s wrong. Don’t be fooled. A GHB overdose is a medical emergency that can become fatal incredibly quickly without professional medical help.

GHB overdose kills its users by making their hearts stop, vomit and choke to death, or asphyxiate. GHB also reduces the rate at which a user’s body can eliminate alcohol, making it much more dangerous in a club or party scenario in which a person might ingest both substances.

There is currently no antidote for GHB toxicity or overdose.

What Are the Side Effects of GHB?

It can be difficult to spot GHB use in a person. They may act like they’ve taken ecstasy, MDMA, or become drunk. Additionally, GHB affects each person differently. No one user will exhibit all of the following signs. Some of the symptoms of GHB use and toxicity include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Intense sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches, dizziness, or confusion
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Loss of bodily control or clumsiness
  • Increased sexuality
  • Incoherent speech or slurring
  • Unusual speaking patterns or body language
  • Amnesia
  • Loss of consciousness
Consistent GHB use has been linked to problems in numerous areas of brain function, including memory, spatial reasoning, and emotional regulation. Other signs that may indicate long-term GHB abuse include:
  • Exhaustion
  • Sluggishness or lack of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Increase in sex drive
  • Seizures
  • Problems sleeping or change in sleep schedule
  • Spending more time at clubs, raves, and parties

What Are the Withdrawal Effects of GHB?

Once a person’s body builds up dependency, discontinuing their use of the drug can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear less than 24 hours after a person’s last dose, especially if they’ve been taking the drug regularly. These symptoms can include:
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tremors or lack of bodily control
  • Sweating
  • Flushed skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate and breathing
  • Delirium or confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychotic thoughts

These symptoms typically last up to three weeks, with lingering aftereffects up to another few weeks. In more severe cases, GHB withdrawal can begin to mimic the withdrawal of alcohol or benzodiazepines, either of which can become deadly without professional medical help.

As of yet, no forms of treatment have proven effective in helping users break free of addiction to GHB, meaning that withdrawal and recovery can be especially difficult, prolonged processes for people struggling to stop using it. GHB withdrawal is not a widely-researched or discussed phenomenon. Some medical professionals and even emergency room doctors may not be familiar with it.

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