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Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2012 Feb 1;20:7. doi: 10.1186/1757-7241-20-7.

Temporal differences in γ-hydroxybutyrate overdoses involving injecting drug users versus recreational drug users in Helsinki: a retrospective study.

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Helsinki Emergency Medical Service, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) have been profiled as 'party drugs' used mainly at dance parties and in nightclubs on weekend nights. The purpose of this study was to examine the frequency of injecting drug use among GHB/GBL overdose patients and whether there are temporal differences in the occurrence of GHB/GBL overdoses of injecting drug and recreational drug users.


In this retrospective study, the ambulance and hospital records of suspected GHB- and GBL overdose patients treated by the Helsinki Emergency Medical Service from January 1st 2006 to December 31st 2007 were reviewed. According to the temporal occurrence of the overdose, patients were divided in two groups. In group A, the overdose occurred on a Friday-Saturday or Saturday-Sunday night between 11 pm-6 am. Group B consisted of overdoses occurring on outside this time frame.


Group A consisted of 39 patient contacts and the remaining 61 patient contacts were in group B. There were statistically significant differences between the two groups in (group A vs. B, respectively): history of injecting drug abuse (33% vs. 59%, p = 0.012), reported polydrug and ethanol use (80% vs. 62%, p = 0.028), the location where the patients were encountered (private or public indoors or outdoors, 10%, 41%, 41% vs. 25%, 18%, 53%, p = 0.019) and how the knowledge of GHB/GBL use was obtained (reported by patient/bystanders or clinical suspicion, 72%, 28% vs. 85%, 10%, p = 0.023). Practically all (99%) patients were transported to emergency department after prehospital care.


There appears to be at least two distinct groups of GHB/GBL users. Injecting drug users represent the majority of GHB/GBL overdose patients outside weekend nights.

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