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For further information, see CMDT Part 38-35: Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) Overdose

Key Features

  • A popular drug of abuse and for sexual assault

  • Consumed as a liquid

  • Other related chemicals with similar effects include butanediol and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL)

  • A prolonged withdrawal syndrome has been described in some heavy chronic users

  • Sodium oxybate, the sodium salt of gamma hydroxybutyrate, is legitimately used in treatment of narcolepsy

  • Most patients recover rapidly with supportive care

Clinical Findings

  • Drowsiness

  • Lethargy

  • Coma with respiratory depression

  • Muscle twitching and seizures are sometimes observed

  • Recovery is usually rapid, with patients awakening within a few hours

Diagnosis

  • Urine gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) analysis can be obtained from National Medical Labs and some forensic laboratories

Treatment

  • Monitor the airway; assist breathing if needed

  • There is no specific treatment

  • GHB withdrawal syndrome may require very large doses of benzodiazepines

  • Baclofen has also been used

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