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Alcohol. 2000 Apr;20(3):263-9.

Abuse and therapeutic potential of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid.

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  • 1Drug Detoxification, Rehabilitation, and Aftercare Program, Haight-Ashbury Free Clinics, 603 Clayton Street, 94117, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA.


Gamma-hydroxbutyric acid is a compound found in mammalian brain that is structurally related to the neurotransmitters gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamic acid. Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid effects dopaminergic systems in the brain and may be a neurotransmitter. Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid was first reported as a drug of abuse in 1990 and continues to be abused by bodybuilders, participants of "rave" dance parties, and polydrug abusers. Physical dependence can develop after prolonged, high-dose use, and overdoses have been widely reported. Its use in sexual assaults as a "date rape" drug and availability on the internet have recently emerged. Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid has established efficacy as an anesthetic agent, and preliminary evidence supports its utility in the treatment of alcohol dependence, opiate dependence, and narcolepsy.

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