GHB, also known as gamma hydroxybutyrate, has become a popular recreational drug within party-based environments, with older teenagers and young adults being the most common users. As a dissociative hallucinogenic, GHB produces “other worldly” effects that work to enhance sensory perceptions to the point where users enter into alternative realities of the mind’s own making.
Many an unsuspecting user may view GHB as a fairly harmless drug since hallucinogens in general tend to carry a low risk for dependence. In actuality, the risk of GHB dependence runs fairly high, especially in cases of frequent, ongoing use.
Being able to spot signs of GHB dependence early on can help a person get needed treatment help before the drug starts to take over his or her life.
GHB acts as a central nervous system depressant, slowing down chemical activities throughout the brain and body. Its interactions within the brain’s chemical environment causes marked disruptions within the body’s major systems and over time create a chemically imbalanced environment within the brain.
According to Kansas State University, GHB produces powerful effects that can vary according to dosage amount. In low doses, GHB acts more so like a relaxant, much like the effects of a mild anesthetic would produce.
In amounts greater than two grams, a person starts to lose control over his or her speech and motor functions while the body’s heart and respiration rates drop considerably. At this level, users will likely lose consciousness, which can be dangerous within a party-type environment. In effect, someone developing GHB dependence starts to experience residual effects from the drug’s repeated interference within the brain’s chemical system.
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GHB Dependence & Withdrawal Effects
More often than not, the first clear signs of GHB dependence come in the form of withdrawal. The GHB withdrawal syndrome affects a person’s mental and emotional state more than anything else, which differs from the typical drug withdrawal state since no physical effects are present. Ultimately, signs of GHB dependence point to a developing addiction problem.
According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, GHB dependence can develop after two months of daily use. Withdrawal effect stems from the degree of brain dysfunction brought on by the drug’s effects over time. Symptoms to watch out for include:
- Anxiety episodes
- Flashbacks of previous hallucinations
- Problems sleeping
- Problems concentrating or staying on task
With no physical withdrawal effects to deal with, signs of GHB dependence can develop without a person’s even realizing it. In effect, GHB dependence indicates a person has become psychologically dependent on the drug’s effects in terms of being able to cope with daily life pressures.
In the absence of needed treatment help, withdrawal episodes become increasingly severe over time to the point where the urge to keep using the drug becomes overwhelming.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be struggling with GHB dependence and have more questions, or need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-609-2774 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.