GHB Treatment and Rehab

GHB (or gamma hydroxybutyrate) was originally developed as an anaesthetic in the 1960s. The compound acts by producing fast-acting effects which slow down the Central Nervous System (CNS) and induces hallucinations simultaneously.

The highly-addictive nature of GHB has earned it a Class C drug status. Like Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), GHB has become a common drug of sexual assault, due to its’ colourless, odourless properties. If you use this drug recreationally, you are highly likely to abuse it.

You can quit by seeking guidance from an addiction professional. Also, if you know somebody currently dependent on the drug, the following information can prove useful. Our addiction helplines are open 24-hours if you need to talk to somebody.

GHB: Abuse and Addiction Treatment

People generally use GHB for its hallucinogenic properties. However, in clubs and other party scenes, sexual predators are known to use it to overpower their victims. Despite claims to the contrary, someone who uses GHB regularly can develop an addiction. This can lead to physical dependence with severe withdrawal symptoms if usage ceases.

As a predominantly, illegally synthesised drug, the highly-variable potency of the street drug can pose high risks of overdose, especially when mixed with alcohol. Other forms of abuse include using GHB at nightclubs, bars, concerts and parties for social indulgence. Its reputation as an elating, disinhibiting short-acting aphrodisiac (without a hangover) has fuelled its application in sexual encounters. Plus, it is quite difficult to detect in toxicology reports.

Although it has been banned as a body building supplement, it is still illicitly used to help increase muscle mass and reduce fat. Additionally, people with insomnia usually take GHB to help them sleep or reduce alcohol cravings.

If you are dependent on GHB, you can get help from a registered rehab facility with qualified medical personnel. Treatment is possible and will require immediate professional intervention. It occurs in three steps; detox, rehab and aftercare. Before you can begin treatment, it is imperative to first go through withdrawal. This makes it easier to focus on special programmes aimed at maintaining sobriety.

Understanding GHB as a Drug

To overcome a problem, it’s important to first understand its nature and how it works. Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter and psychoactive compound. It is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that works by stimulating two areas in the brain – the GABA-b receptor and a GHB binding site. Although GHB occurs naturally in the brain, its concentration is much smaller than the quantity found in street supplies.

GHB application in the medical industry

Over the years, the use of GHB has evolved from is function as a medical anaesthetic to the common drug of choice at clubs and rave parties.

GHB was first synthesised and applied as a medical drug in 1960 when it was originally used as painkiller. Then in 1970, it was used to treat narcolepsy. When it was discovered to potentially induce hallucination in patients, its use as a therapeutic drug diminished significantly.

In the 1980s, GHB was sold with unsubstantiated claims that it could burn fat and help users build muscles. However, it was declared unsafe in 1990 by the Food and Drug Administration following over 30 reports of illnesses linked to GHB usage. Not long after that in the late 1990s, GHB became the popular club drug at concerts and parties.

The federal government labelled it illicit and classified it as a Class C drug, which means it is not approved for medical use and its consumption can lead to abuse and addiction.

However, pharmaceutical GHB has one legal medical function. Xyrem was approved by the FDA in 2002 for its ability to reduce cataplexy – a unique medical condition characterised by a sudden stiffening of muscles, caused by strong emotional outburst. It is also useful in the treatment of narcolepsy symptoms.

Street Names for GHB

People who take or deal GHB use exclusive street names for the drug. If you hear a loved one or friend use any of the following terms discreetly, they may well be involved with GHB.

  • Georgia Home boy
  • Salty Water
  • Growth Hormone Booster
  • Vita G
  • Liquid X
  • Liquid E
  • Goop
  • Liquid Ecstasy
  • Gamma-O
  • Ever clear
  • Great Hormones at Bedtime (GHB)
  • Cherry Meth
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Physical appearance

GHB is a clear liquid. It looks like water, which is in fact why some people call it water. You could mistake it for water, as it often comes in a transparent 30ml clear plastic bottle. Some people even use Gatorade bottles to contain the substance. Such types have a higher dosage, but a quick taste test will reveal that it is not water. GHB is salty and not particularly pleasant to taste. While not as common, the drug also exists in white powder form, which can be snorted.

What is GHB Addiction?

Contrary to the popular opinion that GHB is completely safe, harmless and non-addictive, it is in fact addictive and the withdrawal symptoms may last 10 to 14 days. Like withdrawal from alcohol (delirium tremens) and some benzodiazepine drugs, GHB withdrawal can be deadly.

Despite the documented acuteness and prolonged period of GHB withdrawal symptoms, not many treatment facilities are especially equipped to handle dependence cases. Because of this, proper treatment is quite difficult to find, but if you are addicted to GHB, it is well worth the effort. Addiction Helper can provide access to quality treatment in your area. Our rehab centres have the right medical personnel and facilities aimed at helping people recover from addiction.

GHB is a short-acting drug which takes effect 10 to 15 minutes after ingestion. The euphoric effect lasts for 30 to 60 minutes. However, because of its transient qualities, users are tempted to binge at once to extend the ‘pleasurable feeling’. It is this continued usage that affects the GHB receptors in the brain. The alteration of the receptor sites increases tolerance and encourages dependence in users. Over time, an addiction can build up and expose the user to various risks.

Warning signs of GHB abuse and Addiction

If you use GHB recreationally, there are signs that are indicative of abuse. Similarly, recognising them in friends or loved ones can help save them from a life of addiction.

The effects of GHB are easily recognisable and distinctive from those of other illicit drugs, whether you’re an existing user or experiencing the after-effects. It is also imperative to bear in mind that you can abuse prescription GHB (narcolepsy drug) medication just like any other illicit drug. Taking more dosage than is recommended – or using dishonest means to obtain the drug – is considered abuse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 52 million people over 12 years old have used a prescription drug for non-medical reasons at least once.

The following are symptoms indicative of GHB abuse:

  • Disorientation
  • Poor motor skills
  • Uninhibited behaviour
  • Impulsive actions
  • Hyper sexuality
  • Slurred speech and incoherence
  • Impaired memory
  • Easily agitated
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness

These signs vary with the individual and level of dependence, so it is unlikely you’ll experience all of them. GHB users tend to act more like they are drunk than on ecstasy. While there are distinctive signs, these symptoms make it more complicated to distinguish GHB abuse from other types of drug abuse. However, if you can rule out alcohol and ecstasy, then GHB is the likely culprit.

When it comes to ‘club drugs’ in general, regular partying and clubbing exposes you to high risk of drug abuse. Insomnia or irregular sleep patterns are also an associated problem of GHB abuse. This is because keeping several late nights might affect your ability to perform certain work and fulfil personal responsibilities, including completing school work or having time for your family. Grooming and maintaining good hygiene may be secondary or even non-existent.

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Effects: Short and Long-term

The human brain produces GHB as a neurotransmitter, as well as in certain peripheral tissues of the body. According to researchers, the chemical levels of GHB naturally impact the functions of other neurotransmitters in the body – one of which is Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA).

Since GABA has an inhibitory effect on motor neuron activity, the effect of GHB on GABA levels is responsible for the depressant effects experienced. The hallucinogenic effect of GHB comes from the drug’s ability to change the chemical levels of neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) in the brain.

Once you become addicted to GHB, your brain will be restructured to respond to the drug’s effects so much that its absence triggers abnormal reactions. This means the body cannot perform normally without GHB present.

GHB abuse leads to both short-term and long-term effects.

Some short-term effects of GHB include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Hyperactivity

Long-term effects of GHB abuse include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Inability to perform cognitive functions
  • Organ failure – liver complications
  • Convulsions
  • Fall into coma
  • Can lead to death

Why You Should Seek Rehab for GHB Abuse and addiction

People tend to underestimate the hold GHB can have on a person. The drug is so addictive, it can lead to a physical dependence. In such cases, you can experience severely uncomfortable reactions when you try to cease usage.

However, beating dependent on GBH is difficult to achieve on your own. For this reason, you’re better off seeking help from a professional. Most addiction specialists will refer you to an accredited rehab facility for treatment.

Good rehab centres are equipped with the right resources, including 24-hour medical care, treatment specialists, access to counsellors and support groups. All these make up proven factors you’ll need in order to overcome addiction to GBH. A strong support network is necessary to maintain sobriety, even after you leave the facility.

Furthermore, an inpatient rehab centre reduces the risk of exposure to relapse. People who try to quit ‘cold turkey’ often experience complications that may end up proving fatal. A specialist rehab for GHB addition is always the best option for treatment.

GHB Addiction Treatment

The best way to treat GHB dependence is through a medical detoxification programme, initially. This is not essentially a treatment on its own, but a necessary first step that must be completed before treatment can continue.

Detox usually lasts three to seven days, depending on your level of addiction. During this stage, your vital signs and psychological health status will be monitored 24 hours daily. Medications such as benzodiazepine may be administered and GHB will be tapered off gradually to reduce and manage the gravity of withdrawal symptoms, as well as dampen any cravings.

Following detox, rehabilitation therapy is the next step. This is where addiction counsellors offer special programmes aimed at providing therapeutic and supportive care solutions. Therapy sessions and counselling, nutritional planning, exercise routines, life skills workshops, relapse resistance and educational programmes are all part of a comprehensive solution to help you quit and stay sober forever.

Addiction Helper is available24-hours a day. If you would like to request help or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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What is GHB Rehab Like?

Ultimately, the objective of GHB addiction treatment is to allow you to resume your normal lifestyle, free of drug addiction. Different rehabs have different treatment programmes. There are two major types; the inpatient treatment programme and the outpatient care service.

For strong dependence cases, experts usually advise the inpatient treatment programme. It offers a full-time residential option with 24-hour access to medical personnel. After detox, you will check into a room. Depending on the type of rehab facility, it may be a shared ward with other patients or a private recovery room.

Many rehabs are built within a plush environment and have a soothing ambience to help their patients relax as they recover. This is mainly because stress is a key factor behind most drug abuse cases, and a comfortable atmosphere aids the healing process.

At specific times of the day, you get to indulge in various activities such as one-on-one sessions, group sharing gatherings, exercising, arts and crafts, meal times and so on. By the end of the programme, you’ll have been taught how to overcome cravings, respect yourself, reintegrate into society and become a fully functioning member of the general public.

Treatment and Therapy Options

Every facility is unique in its treatment procedure, depending on the physician and their preferred program.

You can choose to check into an inpatient treatment facility or outpatient service. People with busy schedules often choose the latter, as it allows them to maintain their normal schedule. However, detox must be performed in a controlled facility and only lasts seven to fourteen days.

After detox, when all traces of GHB have been expunged from your system, full recovery commences. This starts with rehabilitation therapy. Almost every addiction has an underlying reason that triggers abuse. For some people, it is dealing with grief, for others it is work or family pressure. However, some people become addicted because of peer pressure or a genetic pre-disposition to addiction.

There are various rehabilitation therapies employed by counsellors to help you identify the root cause of addiction and overcome it. Some methods are orthodox, while others are considered alternative. Before registering into any rehab facility, find out if you are comfortable with the therapy they offer.

Types of GHB Addiction Treatment

GHB addiction treatment begins with detox. Treatment may be divided into two:

  • Treatment against relapse
  • Treatment for underlying issues

For GHB, a common treatment against relapse is medication therapy. This helps to ease the discomfort experienced during detox, as well as stave off cravings that may occur later. Medicines used for this include:

  • Lorazepam
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Diazepam

Medication generally acts by blocking the GHB receptor areas, thereby reducing the effect of cravings. It makes the brain think the substance has already been ingested. However, care is often taken to prevent the patient from developing a substitute addition.

Treatment for underlying issues focuses on helping you understand why you resorted to the drug in the first place, and how to suppress that urge. Modern techniques have been developed to help people overcome specific underlying issues behind addiction.

Some types are:

  • Behavioural therapy
  • Motivation therapy
  • Aversion therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy
  • Support Group work
  • Group therapy

Using some of these methods, you’ll learn to change your addiction-based belief system, behaviours and thinking patterns about GHB.

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When to choose inpatient vs. outpatient treatment options

Both options provide treatment solutions for GHB dependents. However, the level of dependency and your personal schedule can determine which is more suitable for you.

When you talk to a professional, this is one of the first issues they will consider. How high or low is your dependency of GHB use? People with generally high levels of dependency need to be monitored regularly, so an inpatient option is better for them. Detoxification is very uncomfortable and they will require 24-hour care from medical experts.

If you have a low level of dependence on GHB (perhaps you only started using recently), the outpatient service is an ideal option. You can go about your usual routine and resume at the clinic for therapy every day – in the evening or afternoon – at your convenience.

The inpatient treatment facility is frequently recommended because the risks for relapse are very low. Some businesses allow complete rehab breaks for workers who need to be treated for addiction.

Choosing the Best GHB Rehab Centre

Recovery is a very important decision for any substance-dependent individual, and GHB is no different. Many GHB abusers have taken a lackadaisical approach to recovery and ended up relapsing again. To avoid this, it’s best to seek professional guidance when choosing a rehab centre.

One of the important things to consider is the location. Do you want to remain close to your home or would you prefer an out-of-town facility? Next is the accreditation status of the rehab facility. Every centre is obligated to satisfy certain conditions for accreditation. Without this, they cannot meet the required industry standards.

Other factors to consider include the experience and qualification of the treatment professionals, and the type of programme employed by the rehab centre.

Our rehab centres are accredited with GHB specialists and programmes guaranteed to help you to complete recovery.

Specialised Treatment and Therapy Options

Certain types of addictions require specialised treatment for complete recovery. While some rehab centres offer a general approach to treatment, others employ a targeted solution. With GHB addiction, a specialised treatment is a good way to overcome your dependence on the drug.

Medications like Lorazepam and Chlordiazepoxide work by preventing the drug from binding in the GABA receptors, thus preventing the pleasure neurotransmitters from being secreted. So, even though you don’t experience euphoria, you body thinks you have consumed the drug. Over time, this dampens the effect of the craving.

Conversely, some drugs work by suppressing the craving from being triggered in the first place. Besides medication, therapy has also proven to be an effective solution for GHB addiction treatment.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that makes you rethink your addiction-beliefs about GHB. Instead of being triggered by the sight of a transparent bottle, the therapist can help you see it as a water bottle, while aversion therapy trains you to dislike GHB by performing certain specialised procedures.

Withdrawal from GHB

As with most addictive drugs, once dependence is formed, failure to take it after a while triggers an unpleasant effect known as withdrawal symptoms. This is the brain’s reaction to the absence of GHB in the body. In most cases, victims will be unable to function normally until they use the drug.

Typical withdrawal symptoms of GHB are:

  • Insomnia
  • Hand tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Hypertension (increased blood pressure)
  • Hallucinations/ delirium
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions

Long-time users of GHB are at risk of experiencing severe complications during withdrawal, which is why supervised detoxification in a medical setting is strongly advised. Most – if not all – rehab centres provide this service. GHB addiction specialists will administer drugs to mitigate the discomfort and ease pain associated with withdrawal. You are better off detoxing in a controlled facility.

Continuing Care: What Comes Next

Following a successful rehabilitation exercise, you will be released to re-join society as a sober individual. However, it’s important to note that you will be vulnerable at this stage, given you’ve only just left rehab and there are many forms of temptation that could cause you to relapse.

Continuing care is an option recommended by many rehab centres, for patients to continue receiving treatment even after they have left the facility. It allows access to one-on-one sessions with therapists, group treatment, group care therapy, and a strong support system.

Continuing care is important, because sobriety is an ongoing journey that must be sustained one day at a time. One of the benefits of this solution is the support network it offers. After rehab, you may want to connect with individuals outside the facility. Continuing care provides an opportunity to join networks of sober people, who identify with your struggles and help you overcome them.

Relapse Prevention

GHB is a powerful drug and attempts to stop using it (in some cases) have led to relapse after detoxification. Addiction recovery is never easy, but it is possible. One way to achieve this is to avoid isolation, which is a big factor of addiction, because it simply allows you to indulge in your bad habits.

When you build good support networks, you can always call a family member, friend or sponsor when you feel the discomfort of craving. Ensure you get rid of any triggers in the home. For example, small transparent bottles that may (or may not) have contained GHB could trigger your cravings for the drug.

Researchers believe that cravings for use of GHB and co-morbid psychological symptom levels are major factors responsible for high relapse rates. Based on its pharmacological properties, baclofen is thought to be a strong anti-craving drug for people with GHB addiction.

However, abrupt discontinuation of baclofen can cause withdrawal symptoms, like alcohol or benzodiazepam abuse. Patients are advised to taper its use gradually. Don’t use it without a physician’s prescription.

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Treatment payment options

Paying for GHB addiction treatment usually depends on the facility you choose. While some rehab centres prefer an upfront payment, others accept an online deposit and complete payment upon check-in.

Accommodation is not guaranteed when you simply walk through the door. Instead, you are advised to book a room ahead of check-in. Making a reservation attracts a deposit fee, which can be completed when you arrive at the reception. Full recovery isn’t guaranteed, because it also depends on your level of commitment. However, if you follow all the necessary procedures, you are highly likely to recover successfully.

At Addiction Helper, we can help you select a suitable rehab programme that is ideal for your budget, whether you’re paying in instalments or fully in cash.

Live a Sober Life Again – Call Now for Treatment Options

If you’re struggling with GHB dependency, or have a friend (or family member) who is addicted, we can help you find appropriate treatment in your area.

Our helplines are always open, and our rehab centres are fully-equipped with specialised care, including GHB addiction specialists.

Are you hard-pressed on which decision to take? We can help you get clean again. Call Addiction Helper now for treatment options.

GHB Addiction Statistics and Facts

  • Since 1990, when the drug was banned by the FDA, there have been more than 72 GHB related deaths.
  • GHB is usually packaged in transparent little plastic bottles, where it is sold between £5 to £15 for a dose.
  • GHB is highly-addictive and withdrawal can kick in from three hours since the last dose was taken, depending on your level of dependency.
  • Women between the ages of 16 – 24 are four times more likely to be unwittingly exposed to GHB than females in any other age group.
  • Every year, at least three people die because of a GHB overdose. However, not all overdose cases are related to sexual abuse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the street names of GHB?

Illicit drugs often have several monikers which dealers and users use to interact with one another. One common name for GHB is ‘Salt Water’ because it looks like water and has a salty taste. Other names include: G, Gamma 10, Gamma O, Goop, Vita-G, Cherry Meth, Easy Lay, and Georgia Homeboy Liquid E.

Are GHB Rehabs Private and Confidential?

There are GHB rehabs designed to cater exclusively to patients who want to be discreet. They are usually popular with celebrity patients. If you wish to check into a private rehab centre, we have a list of places that offer confidential treatment services. Contact our direct line and we will attend to you immediately.

Is GHB Addictive?

Contrary to popular opinion, GHB is highly-addictive. It is easy to build a dependence on the drug, as it has a short-acting effect. Because of this, users continue to take more to prolong the effect of the drug. Unfortunately, as they repeat usage, tolerance is formed and soon an addiction to GHB develops.

Why is GHB a problem?

GHB itself is not a problem, as it is often used clinically as a cure for certain conditions (narcolepsy). However, since it became a recreational drug at parties and raves, more problems have been associated with its usage. Besides fostering an unhealthy dependence in users, GHB has been used for crimes via sexual misconduct, with fatal consequences on some occasions.

How Long Does Rehab Take?

For some centres, rehab covers the period of detox and rehabilitation. Typically, the minimum rehab stay is 30 days. However, experts often advise patients to stay a couple more weeks to further cement their recovery. People with a long history of usage are likely to be highly dependent on GHB, and therefore may require a longer stay.

What Types of GHB Addiction Treatment Programmes Are Available?

There are various addiction treatment programmes, such as medication and behavioural therapy. Medication is often used to suppress the effect of withdrawal from GHB and involves the use of drugs like Lorazepam and Chlordiazepoxid. Meanwhile, techniques like CBT, Group therapy and Motivation therapy are also common behavioural solutions employed by addiction counsellors.

Is There an Ideal Length of Rehab?

Not really. Rehab stay is strongly dependent on your recovery progress and varies with individuals. Long-time GHB users will naturally have a stronger dependence on the drug and it may take longer for detox and recovery, while less dependent patients tend to recover more quickly. The standard duration is 30 days, but you can choose to stay longer for more comprehensive treatment.

What does treatment involve?

Depending on the type of rehab facility, treatment techniques will range from traditional therapy to more alternative solutions. However, detoxification is always a necessary first step for addiction treatment. After detox, an addiction counsellor will try to identify the underlying cause for abuse. This may be followed by various activities, including group therapy sessions, exercise routines, yoga, acupuncture and so on.

What Other Factors Should You Look for in a Treatment Programme?

Besides the type of treatment, another important factor to look out for is the accreditation status of the clinic. Are they licensed to practise? How experienced or qualified are the medical personnel? Is the facility well-equipped? How many successful treatments have been recorded? Knowing these will help you make an informed decision.

How Much Does Treatment Cost?

Treatment often varies with the rehab facility and the type of service. The price will cost more if you opt for an inpatient service because of the additional care, as well as treatment. The outpatient programme costs a lot less, because it is less inclusive. However, recovery options shouldn’t be solely based on price, but the value to be gained.

Are There Treatment Programmes for Teens?

Sure, there are. According to a survey, GHB use is more popular between the 16 to 24 age range. As a result, most abusers fall into that category. Special treatment programmes have been organised to help teenagers on the path to recovery, without missing out significantly on their studies or extra-curricular obligations.

How Do You Know If You Are Addicted to GHB?

GHB addiction comes with different signs and symptoms. Besides the obvious indicators (such as cravings), if you are unable to go 24 to 36 hours without feeling withdrawal, then you are probably addicted to GHB.

How do clinicians recommend duration of stay?

One of the first things a physician does when you check into a rehab facility is to perform a dependence test. They may ask questions relating to how long you have been using the drug and the quantity you take each time. In many cases, a urine or blood test may be carried out. Determining your level of dependence is a sure way to gauge the duration of your stay.

Does Insurance cover GHB Treatment?

If you have health insurance, it can cover some of the cost of your GHB addiction treatment, but if it doesn’t, there are other alternatives. Some rehab facilities have packages that allow patients to pay in smaller instalments, until they cover the whole cost of treatment.

Why Should I Seek GHB Addiction Treatment?

GHB addiction (like any other kind of addiction) is dangerous. Besides disrupting your regular lifestyle, destroying relationships and work opportunities, it is harmful to your health. The liver is the primarily affected organ and an overdose can cause death in severe cases. In the UK, people caught in possession of GHB are liable to at least two years in prison.

What is GHB Rehab Like?

Most rehab centres are designed to help patients relax while they receive treatment. Because of this, the environment is well-managed and built to taste. There are on-call doctors and nurses, as well as addiction counsellors. Some facilities have a gym, massage rooms and yoga halls to encourage meditation and personal reflection. However, the most important thing is your commitment to recovery.

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