|Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB)|
Gamma hydroxybutyrate: An OverviewHave you heard of GHB? You may not have yet, but its use is increasing. Once limited to large warehouse scenes such as "raves," GHB is showing up at parties, perhaps in neighborhoods like yours. It gives the user a feeling of euphoria, that everything is fine. GHB, like alcohol, is a central nervous system depressant that takes only minutes to make a user lose control, forget what is happening, or lose consciousness. GHB is colorless, odorless, and has a slightly salty taste. The synthetic form of GHB contains some of the same ingredients as floor stripper and industrial cleaners.
The same dose of GHB can have variable effects in different people. A dose that makes one person feel euphoric can make another person sick. The US Drug Enforcement Agency has linked GHB to 58 deaths since 1990 and there have been at least 5,700 overdoses recorded since then. Moreover, there are some reports that GHB can cause dependence. Treatment of GHB overdoses is difficult because it is difficult for emergency room doctors to detect the drug.
Possible symptoms of GHB use:
GHB was first developed as a general anesthetic, but because it did not work very well to prevent pain, its use as an anesthetic declined. The observation that GHB may cause the release of growth hormone led some people, especially athletes and body-builders, to take it because they thought it would increase muscle development. At the time, GHB was available as a dietary supplement and as such was not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. In 1990, after numerous reports that GHB caused illness, the FDA began investigating the drug. It is now classified as an illegal substance. Research is being conducted to investigate the use of GHB in the treatment of the sleep disorder called narcolepsy.
GHB has been grouped with other drugs in the "date-rape drug" category such as Rohypnol, because it can be slipped easily into a drink and given to an unsuspecting victim, who often does not remember being assaulted. GHB is especially dangerous when combined with alcohol.
GHB and the BrainAlthough GHB can be made in the laboratory, it is also produced normally in the brain through the synthesis of a neurotransmitter called GABA. Some of the greatest concentrations of GHB are found in the substantia nigra, thalamus and hypothalamus. When GHB is ingested by a user, it affects several different neurotransmitter systems in the brain:
References and more information about GHB:|
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Neuroscience for Kids
Page prepared by Ellen Kuwana, Neuroscience For Kids, Staff Writer
Page was last updated on June 14, 2005