GHB Abuse Trends and Statistics

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) abuse has became a problem associated with rave and club drugs which has risen dramatically in 1999. 

GHB, a central nervous system depressant and two of its precursors, gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butanediol (1,4 BDL, also called tetramethylene) have been increasingly involved in poisonings, drug overdoses, drug rapes and other criminal behaviors, or fatalities in nearly every Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG) city and their surrounding suburban and rural areas. These products, obtainable over the Internet and sometimes still sold in health food stores, are available at some gyms, nightclubs, raves, gay male party venues, on college campuses, or on the street. They are commonly mixed with alcohol, which may cause unconsciousness, have a short duration of action, and are not easily detectable on routine hospital toxicology screens.

New esters and analogs of GHB continue to appear, even after Federal and State laws removed the sale of these drugs. In 1999, GHB accounted for 32 percent of illicit drug-related poison center calls in Boston-a number larger than that for MDMA. Conversely, in Chicago and San Francisco, GHB use is reportedly low compared with MDMA abuse, although GHB overdoses seem frequent compared with overdoses related to other club drugs. Even though it may be difficult to distinguish from water, several cities reported law enforcement indicators of GHB and GHB abuse, including seizures of large amounts in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Phoenix.

Information released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2000)