GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is commonly known as the date rape drug. It is sometimes used by men as an aid to rape women. During a visit to a bar or club, GHB is slipped into the victim’s drink; the victim soon starts to feel drowsy and sleepy and will often be unable to remember what happened exactly afterwards. After taking GHB, many people feel calm and warm: numb and tipsy after a regular dose, drunk after a high dose. Other people experience elation and become talkative. In most cases, it will reduce anxiety and inhibitions. People’s sex drive will become stronger and there will be a desire to make love. The sensation of being touched is amplified and it reduces the hangover experienced after using speed and XTC.
There is a physical as well as a psychological dimension to GHB addiction. Dependence will occur when GHB is used on a regular basis. The most common withdrawal symptoms are insomnia, tension and nervousness, anxiety, sweating, trembling, muscle ache and a depressed feeling. Acute abstinence may cause severe symptoms, such as an epileptic seizure and/or hallucinations/psychosis.
GHB addiction can cause death, under certain conditions. A GHB overdose (especially when combined with other drugs such as alcohol) can have a paralyzing effect on the central nervous system, even so strong that the user stops breathing. Hospitals see a growing number of admissions due to GHB overdoses. Hospital treatment consists of monitoring the patient’s heart-rate and breathing. The patient often wakes up after about an hour in a clear and conscious state, having no idea what happened. Sometimes an admission to the intensive care unit will be necessary to support or temporarily control the patient’s breathing. A number of cases have been reported that ended in death, caused by respiratory failure and/or because an unconscious patient will often throw up, causing vomit to enter the lungs, ending in suffocation.
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