Gamma hydroxybutyrate is a medicine originally designed as a pre-operative anaesthetic and natural sleep aid. It is a powerful synthetic drug that acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. GBH and its precursor, 1,4 Butanediol (BD), have been abused for its euphoric, sedative and anabolic (body building) effects. It is marketed on the Internet in liquid, pill or powder form, as an aphrodisiac, an aid for sleep and for its alcohol-like high. In the club scene it is also known as also as GHB, "Liquid G", "G", "liquid ecstasy", "somatomax," "scoop," or "grievous bodily harm."
Coma and seizures can occur following abuse of GHB and, when combined with methamphetamine, there can be an increased risk of seizure. Combining use with other drugs such as alcohol can result in nausea and difficulty breathing. GHB may also produce withdrawal effects, including insomnia, anxiety, tremors, and sweating.
1,4 Butanediol (BD) is a tasteless substance and, like alcohol, is often mixed with juice and soda and as a date-rape drug. People take the drug recreationally to get a 'high' similar to alcohol, but without the calories. When ingested, BD converts in the central nervous system into its chemical cousin, gamma-hydroxybutyrate. BD is marketed not only as a solvent but also as a nutritional and body-building supplement, to enhance everything from sleep to sexual performance to muscle building and fat loss. It can also be concocted from recipes found online. It is toxic, addictive and potentially lethal; unlike alcohol, the 'high' experienced is difficult monitor. Symptoms of BD overdoses included vomiting, incontinence, combativeness, decreased consciousness, respiratory depression and death, usually resulting from accident or a toxic coma associated with vomiting and aspiration. Although the long-term effects are poorly understood, frequent use of 1,4-butanediol can result in physical and psychological addiction and potentially severe withdrawal syndromes.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, US college students looking to get a quick high used GHB recreationally. After losing its popularity in the late 1980s, GHB again became popular for use as a "date rape" drug in the mid 1990s. Mostly, young people attending parties and nightclubs and bodybuilders use the drug. As with rohypnol and clonazepam, GHB has been associated with sexual assault in cities throughout the country.