Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate Use

Gamma hydroxy butyrate (ghb) is not approved for any clinical use in the United States, other than investigational research. Some countries have approved its use as an anesthetic. Illicit use of the substance is concentrated among bodybuilders, nightclub frequenters, and party-goers, sometimes with the intent of date rape. Recent devastating consequences of the drug in New York and Texas merit the attention of clinicians.

GHB increases dopamine levels in the brain but, in toxic amounts, produces coma, seizures, respiratory depression, and vomiting. Alcohol may potentiate some of the adverse effects. GHB is known under street names like "Grievous Bodily Harm," "Georgia Home Boy," and "Liquid Ecstasy." Some persons report having been given the drink surreptitiously—for instance, having it slipped into their drink without their knowledge. The death in Texas attributed to GHB is classified as a homicide. Clinicians should be aware of the recent upswing in illicit use of this product and inform potential users of its possible devastating consequences.

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1997; 46:281-283.