GHB (gammahydroxybutrate) and GBL (gammabutyrolactone), are closely related, dangerous drugs with similar sedative and anaesthetic effects.
GBL is converted to GHB shortly after entering the body. Both produce a feeling of euphoria and can reduce inhibitions and cause sleepiness.
But both can kill and are particularly dangerous when used with alcohol and other depressant or sedative substances.
When they are sold as drugs they are usually sold as an odourless, colourless, oily liquid in small bottles or capsules and they both taste slightly salty. A teaspoon or a capful is a normal dose although the strength of GHB varies so it can be very difficult for people to know how much they're taking, making it easy to overdose.
There is a form of GHB (called iGHB) that does come in powder form but is rare. Prices can vary from region to region, on average a 30ml plastic container of GHB costs about £15.
GHB has a medical use in the treatment of narcolepsy, while GBL has a legitimate use as a stain remover, rust remover, alloy cleaner, superglue remover and as a paint stripper.
GHB and GBL produce essentially the same effects: feelings of euphoria, reduced inhibitions and drowsiness. The effects start after about 10 minutes to an hour and can last for up to seven hours or so.
Taking GHB and/or GBL does involve risks. Here’s what it could do to you:
GBL/GHB are particularly dangerous when used with alcohol. The strength of GHB and GBL varies widely from bottle to bottle. At present there is little reliable evidence to determine the purity of GBL.
Yes, repeated use is now known to cause dependence in some people. Very severe withdrawals with delirium have been reported – especially in unplanned detoxifications when people have been unable to get GHB or GBL.
GHB and GBL are both Class C drugs - but GBL is available for legitimate use in industry, but if someone supplies or possesses them knowing or believing that they will be swallowed and ingested, they are committing an offence.
Possession can get you up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get you 14 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine