Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a depressant drug that has a sedative-hypnotic effect. GHB has gained popularity in recent years, commonly used within the dance party scene or nightlife settings. Most commonly available as a bitter or salty clear, odourless liquid, GHB is usually sold in small bottles and consumed orally. Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD) are precursors of GHB that are also often sold and rapidly convert to GHB on consumption. Whilst GHB is known to produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation and sociability at small doses, at high doses, it can cause sedation and memory impairment. Acute toxicity may manifest as agitation, excitation, respiratory depression, coma, vomiting and seizures, and risk can be exacerbated by use of other depressants. There is also a risk of GHB dependence and withdrawal.
Consequently, the aims of this bulletin are to examine i) past six-month use of GHB (including GBL and 1,4-BD), ii) demographic, drug use and drug-related behavioural characteristics of those who report GHB use, and iii) GHB overdose, among two sentinel samples of people who regularly use illicit drugs in Adelaide, South Australia, with a specific focus on data collected in 2020. The latter two aims concentrate on data collected from one sentinel sample of people who regularly inject drugs.