GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is a depressant drug. Depressant drugs do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. They slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages going between the brain and the body. Other depressants include alcohol, benzodiazepines, cannabis and heroin.
GHB occurs naturally in the brain, but it was first manufactured in the 1960s. It has been used as a general anaesthetic, but was withdrawn from use in most countries—including Australia—because of unwanted side effects.
G, fantasy, grievous bodily harm or GBH, liquid ecstasy, liquid E, liquid X, salty water, Georgia Home Boy, soap, scoop, cherry meth and blue nitro.
GHB commonly comes as a colourless, odourless, bitter or salty tasting liquid, usually sold in small bottles or vials. It also comes as a bright blue liquid (sometimes called "blue nitro") and less commonly as a crystal powder.
GHB is generally swallowed, although a small number of people inject it.
In the 1980s GHB was marketed as a dietary supplement for body builders. GHB has also been used as a treatment for the sleep disorder narcolepsy and in the treatment of alcohol dependence.
GHB has been used to facilitate sexual assault. It can easily be slipped into a drink without the victim's knowledge, and can cause drowsiness, sleep and short-term memory loss. This means that victims may not be able to resist or recall a sexual assault.
Some people use GHB to help with the symptoms of the "comedown" after using stimulants like amphetamines or ecstasy. Others take it because it makes them relax, feel more sociable and lose their inhibitions.
Last Reviewed: 27 January 2012