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GHB was first synthesized in 1960 and before its harmful potential became known, was sold at health food stores as a dietary supplement. In the '80s, GHB was popular among bodybuilders because of its supposed ability to release a growth hormone and stimulate muscle growth. It is a central nervous system depressant and one of the most common date rape drugs. By powerfully and rapidly depressing the central nervous system, GHB can produce an intoxicated feeling that has earned it a reputation as a pleasure enhancer for thrill-seeking youngsters. But its side effects can range from nausea and vomiting to delusions, depression, vertigo, hallucinations, seizures, difficulty breathing, slowed heart rate, low blood pressure, amnesia, and coma.

This drug emerged in the early 1990's as 'drug-assisted assault' drugs. In the news, GHB use is more commonly known as a 'date rape or drug rape'. Due to the abuse of GHB and drugs like it, Congress passed the "Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996" making it illegal to bring both Rohypnol or GHB into the U.S. The law also increased Federal penalties for use of any controlled substance to aid in sexual assault. 

In 1990, based on more than 30 reports of GHB-linked illness, FDA declared the product unsafe and illegal except in the carefully controlled environment of agency-approved drug studies. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officially cites more than 45 deaths and 5,500 emergency room overdoses associated with GHB. Since 1990, the Food and Drug Administration has issued multiple warnings to consumers about the drug's sometimes-deadly effects. Still today, however, GHB continues to be illegally promoted, not just for inducing an uninhibited high and for building muscles, but also for combating depression, aiding sleep, and fostering weight loss.

In recent years in response to renewed abuse of the drug, the FDA reissued its warning, telling consumers again about GHB's risks and reiterating that the drug has never been approved for sale as a medical product in the United States. FDA has also warned consumers about two potentially deadly "chemical cousins" of GHB, which are precursors of the drug that are converted into GHB in the body:

  • gamma butyrolactone, or GBL, which is marketed under brand names such as Renewtrient, Revivarant or Revivarant G, Blue Nitro or Blue Nitro Vitality, GH Revitalizer, Gamma G, and Remforce.
  • 1,4 butanediol, abbreviated BD, a chemical in products sold under brand names like Revitalize Plus, Serenity, Enliven, GHRE, SomatoPro, NRG3, Thunder Nectar, and Weight Belt Cleaner.

Nationwide, the government's Drug Abuse Warning Network has tracked an increase in GHB-related emergency room visits from 20 in 1992 to more than 750 in 1997. But these statistics are the "tip of the iceberg," warns rave drug specialist and former narcotics detective Trinka Porrata, who adds, "Kids are dropping like flies."

Two things help explain why official reports under-represent the problem by far, Porrata says: Emergency rooms often can't detect or identify the drug because it leaves the body in about 12 hours, and many doctors are not yet familiar with this relatively new drug of abuse.

Why is this important for you to know? Whether you or a friend go to a party or on a trip with friends, it is important to understand roofies and GHB. While often associated with alcoholic beverages, they can also be slipped into a non-alcoholic drink. Here is some advice:

  • Always watch your drink. If you leave it unattended for ANY amount of time, dump it and get a fresh drink.
  • Don't drink anything that you did not see poured, open yourself or that someone else gave you (other than a bartender or server).
  • If you think a friend has been drugged, do not leave them alone. Seek help immediately.
  • If you think you have been drugged, ask for help IMMEDIATELY (preferably not from a stranger) and get yourself to a public place if you are not currently in one. You may have only a few minutes of alert behavior.
  • GHB may have a bitter/salty taste when dissolved in a drink; be alert for a strange taste.
  • Travel in groups; three or more people is best. Friends should take care of friends and be observant of any strange behavior, such as slurred speech and lack of alertness.
Effects of rohypnol include nausea, low blood pressure, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and stomach upset.

In 2004, 3.1% of young adults were abusing ecstasy continually within that year.

Ketamine abusers can build up a tolerance for the drug and an addiction.

Studies show that club drug can have long lasting harmful effects on the brain, especially for motor skills and memory.

GHB is one of the drugs known also as the date rape drug.

Club drugs were given their name due to the parties, concerts and raves that they are constantly brought to.

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