Gamma hydroxybutyrate withdrawal

(Redirected from GHB withdrawal)


  • Abbreviation: GHB
  • Frequently referred to as the "date rape drug"
  • Central nervous system depressant
  • GABA-B agonist (as opposed to GABA-A agonists - alcohol, benzodiazepines, etc)
  • Abused for:
    • Body building or sleep enhancement
    • euphoric, sexual, stimulant, and relaxant effects
    • Surreptitious drugging to facilitate sexual assault
  • Also used therapeutically in the treatment of narcolepsy[1]


  • Effects start in 15-20 minutes, peak in 30-60 minutes,
  • Lipid soluble, readily crosses the blood brain barrier
  • Elimination is dose-dependent; half-life of 20-50 minutes
  • The duration of GHB's clinical effects depends upon the dose, and ranges from 2.5-4 hours


  • Is a metabolite and precursor of GABA
  • Interacts with GHB-specific receptors and also acts as a direct agonist of GABA-B receptors
  • Affects multiple neurotransmitter systems, including those of opioids, dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, and acetylcholine
  • Gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4 butanediol (BD) are GHB analogs that are rapidly metabolized to GHB after ingestion, with the same toxic and recreational effects

Clinical Features

  • Similar to alcohol withdrawal
  • tremor, agitation, hallucinations, tachycardia, hypertension
  • Withdrawal only if have long term use, not episodic binging
    • Occur a few hours after use

Differential Diagnosis

Sedative/hypnotic withdrawal


  • Typically a clinical diagnosis



See Also

External Links


  1. Mamelak M, Scharf MB, Woods M. Treatment of narcolepsy with gamma-hydroxybutyrate. A review of clinical and sleep laboratory findings. Sleep. 1986;9(1 Pt 2):285-289. doi:10.1093/sleep/9.1.285