GHB & Its Analogs
Secret Danger That Shouldn’t Be So Secret
By Trinka D. Porrata
Drug Consultant &President, ProjectGHB.org
You need to know about a deadly danger lurking out there. You need to know if you drive a car, take a bus, walk, or fly in an airplane. You need to know if you date, or go out into the public for food and/or drink. You need to know if you take so-called health food supplements, and if you have ever taken or considered taking an over-the-counter sleep aid. You need to know if you work out and tend to try the so-called sports enhancing supplements. You really need to know if you are a parent of a child 12 years of age or older.
What single thing could possibly be so all pervasive and dangerous?
“It” is a highly impairing drug that is still a virtual mystery to law enforcement and the public, and represents a tremendous threat to life itself. It is clear and virtually odorless, and its somewhat salty taste is rather easily masked by fruity, multi-flavored drinks or simply masked by the explanation that it is a workout drink or sleep aid.
“It” is gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and/or its analogs (chemical cousins which have the same effect). GHB is known by names like G, Liquid Ecstasy, GHBeers, Gina, Water, Salty Water, Aminos, Grievous Bodily Harm, Scoop, Jib, GH Buddy, and Sodium Oxybate The analog products — sold under an ever-changing series of names — continue to pop up in “health food” stores and are on order through the Internet. Or, the chemicals may be hidden as a cleaning product. In any case, GHB and its analogs are dangerous and illegal for human consumption.
What you need to know, for your personal safety and the safety of your family, is that
GHB is distributed by the capful (typically from a common water bottle, mouthwash bottle or literally any container that will hold a liquid) or by the “sip.” It is usually a liquid, but may also be seen in powder, capsule or even a “putty-like” form. It can be easily slipped into someone’s drink (with an eyedropper, poured from a small bottle or squirted out of an eye medicine bottle, for example). Females will often be talked into trying some unusual, unfamiliar drink.
GHB is commonly known as the “date rape drug” though more appropriately it is a “rape drug” as drugs do not know or care whether a “date” is involved or total strangers. GHB has forever changed the investigation of sexual assaults. But, GHB is also very widely, voluntarily abused by individuals from 12 to 77. It is common at the high school and college party scene and in the gym crowd (including high school or college athletes and cheerleaders) and even the pricey nightclub scene. It may also be taken innocently by individuals who were told that GHB is a “safe” sleep aid or a diet aid that will allow you to get “high” without the calories and hangover of alcohol or develop lean muscle mass (no evidence of such effects). People who work out should be careful of all supplements being sold as steroid enhancers, weight loss products, sleep aids, etc., in the stores or in the parking lots at gyms and over the Internet. Don’t be tricked into taking GHB or an analog product.
More than 19,000 overdoses have been documented in emergency rooms nationwide and more than 71 deaths (15 of them involving only GHB) were reviewed and deemed GHB-related, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. But DEA stopped counting once the drug became illegal. Project GHB has a database of more than 300 GHB related deaths, but no one is officially counting. Experts agree that this is likely just the tip of the iceberg since all to often neither law enforcement nor medical examiners have known enough about it to recognize it in many cases.
Little is known about how GHB works and especially how it selects its victims. It is extremely dose sensitive and very unpredictable (no matter what the “quality” of the product). Users, especially beginners or the unsuspecting victims, often vomit and experience body jerking. They may pass out and while most “sleep it off,” the unconscious state is risky. Breathing may slow to as few as six breathes per minute. They cannot hear phones ringing, horns blaring, fire alarms, etc. At some point, the individual may be without a protective “gag” reflex, allowing death to come easy. The largest clusters of deaths exist in Florida, California and Texas. Deaths are also known in Sweden, Italy, England, Australia, Canada, Norway, New Zealand,and France. Others have been killed by those driving under the influence of GHB or GHB/alcohol.
And, forget the Internet babble that GHB is not addictive. Those who become addicted are in serious trouble, as detoxification from GHB is difficult and even life threatening. More than 1,800 GHB addicts in 18 countries have sought help through Project GHB’s Addiction Helpline. Nearly all have been athletes of some degree. Mike Scarcella, former Mr. America and Mr. USA, died in 2003 trying to escape the grip of GHB. Suicide in the aftermath of GHB addiction is all too common.
Analog product names surfacing have included: Blue Nitro, Renewtrient, Revivarant, Remforce, Firewater, Enliven, Serenity, ZEN, Revitalize Plus, Thunder Nectar, Weight Belt Cleaner, SomatoPro, NRG3, GHRE, GHGold and, most recently, G3. They may appear in any color, including clear, light amber, red or blue. Anyone driving a vehicle under the influence of these substances presents a potential safety hazard. They are used in rapes in exactly the same way GHB is used. Several of the documented GHB-related deaths involve these products.
Many of them list the main ingredient as 2(3H)-Furanone di-hydro and claim that it does not contain GHB or any other illegal substance. This ingredient is gamma butyl lactone (GBL), the precursor of GHB, being listed by its other chemical name. Though a precursor to GHB, it is also an active “analog” of GHB. Several of the products list the primary ingredient as 1,4 butanediol (BD) or its other chemical names, tetramethylene glycol. These products may also surface labeled as degreasing or cleaning products that are in reality being used for human consumption.
Mere possession of the precursor/analog GBL or the analog 1,4 butanediol is not illegal in and of itself at this time. But, any action that converts the product to “human consumption” (such as sticking a straw in the bottle, pouring it into human consumption type water or vitamin or mouthwash bottles, for example, etc.) makes it an analog under snd thus illegal.
Some of the Internet sites promoting these products admit that there is no scientific evidence to back up the safety and beneficial effects claimed by them. Some even note that their product is being manufactured in an FDA approved lab; they further admit that this does not mean the FDA has approved the product itself. Labels notations such as “Does not contain GHB” or “legal (or herbal) GHB” are literally your first clue that the product is an analog of GHB! Most of them also foolishly discourage calling 911 when someone overdoses on these products, a deadly recommendation. When cases identify the Internet as the source of the product and when the physical location of the Internet source can be determined, prosecution may be possible either under that state’s laws or under federal provisions through the Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Litigation.
When 14-year-old Samantha Reid died in Michigan, an innocent victim of GHB slipped into her Mountain Dew, a friend noted in despair that youth are told “daily” about the dangers of marijuana and cocaine and drugs like that, but “why didn’t you tell us about GHB?”
Now you know.