GHB: what psychiatrists need to know

by Dr Matthew Goldin and Dr Jenny Bearn

 

Published: June 2013

 

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is an endogenous brain compound. In pharmacological doses it is a rapidly acting central nervous system depressant.

 

Although in the past GHB has been used for various clinical reasons, its recreational use is now increasing (along with the use of its precursors, gamma-butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol). Medical literature reports rising cases of GHB intoxication, dependence and severe withdrawal, which are potentially fatal, and the clinical effects of the drug can be unpredictable and difficult to diagnose.


This module outlines the history, epidemiology and pharmacology of GHB, and provides a summary of the medico-legal issues associated with the drug. By the end of the module you should be able to recognise the clinical features of GHB intoxication, dependence and withdrawal, and be aware of the clinical management options available.

 

Start the module

 

 

If you like this module, you may also be interested in:

 

Buprenorphine in opiate dependence by Dr Lucinda M. Cockayne and Ms Elizabeth Hutchings

 

Stimulants: epidemiology and impact on mental health by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Antonio Albanese

 

Stimulants: treatment approaches and organising services by Professor Fabrizio Schifano and Dr Antonio Albanese

 

Drug Misuse: Psychosocial Interventions – The NICE Guideline (book from RCPsych Publications)

 

 

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© 2017 Royal College of Psychiatrists