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Presse Med. 2009 Oct;38(10):1526-38. doi: 10.1016/j.lpm.2009.05.017. Epub 2009 Sep 16.

[Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB): more than a date rape drug, a potentially addictive drug].

[Article in French]

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UniversitĂ© Paris-Sud, F-94276 Le Kremlin BicĂȘtre, France.


According to available information, GHB and its precursors--gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4BD)--are used especially in a nightlife scene characterized by the search for amplified sensations through the combination of electronic music, marathon dancing, and substance abuse. Evidence indicates that GHB/GHL is used particularly in some subpopulations and in places, such as in gay nightclubs. Commonly known as Gorliquid ecstasy, it was misused in the 1980s for its bodybuilding effects and in the 1990s as a recreational drug at music venues. In the same period, media coverage of the use of GHB in sexual assault (often referred to as date rape) brought the drug into the spotlight. GHB/GHL addiction is a recognized clinical entity evidenced by severe withdrawal symptoms when the drug is abruptly discontinued after regular or chronic use. There is evidence that negative health and social consequences may occur in recreational and chronic users. Nonfatal overdoses and deaths related to GHB have been reported. These undesirable effects and especially the deaths appear to have prompted campaigns to limit the use of GHB. Clinicians must also be aware of GBL, which is being sold and used as a substitute for GHB.

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