How GHB Addiction Works

Is GHB Physically Addictive?

GHB is not considered in most people to be physically addictive. However, heavy users who stop cold turkey without supervision by an inpatient drug rehab program can experience high anxiety, insomnia, and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Sometimes it can take up to three weeks for these symptoms to fully subside. In fact, when GHB is used regularly (with from 4 to 6 regular doses per week), physical addiction can develop in a matter of weeks. In most people, GHB is considered primarily psychologically addictive. Those who have experienced alcohol or tranquilizer addictions are more prone to addiction to GHB.

What Causes GHB Addiction?

GHB is not thought of as physically addictive, though some users report symptoms of withdrawal and preoccupation with use. However, GHB reacts with a host of the brain’s chemicals—known as “neurotransmitters”—creating a stimulating and inebriated effect at lower doses, and a hypnotic trance at higher dosages. Particularly affecting GABA and glutamate, GHB causes short-lived withdrawal after coming down from the drug, due to its fast metabolism in the body. Due to its euphoric effects, GHB users can become psychologically addictive, especially with prior addiction history. GHB can also have antidepressant and stimulant effects, heightening its propensity to become psychologically addictive as both a mood-enhancer and weight-loss drug.

What Are the Signs of GHB Addiction?

Signs of GHB addiction include psychological and mood changes, such as intrusive thoughts about the next GHB dosage, exhaustion, irritability, and dysphoria. Physical signs of GHB withdrawal and addiction can include body aches, muscle pains, nausea, vomiting, lack of coordination and memory loss. Regular GHB users can also experience digestive problems such as diarrhea, bladder control issues, and frequent bouts of sleepwalking. Some users experience seizure-like involuntary movements if dosing before sleep, while others report orthostatic hypotension (dizziness from standing up quickly due to a sudden blood pressure lowering). GHB users often report frequent headaches, slowed heartbeat and slowed breathing.

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