GHB Overdose Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment Guide

Overdoses from GHB have been on the rise over the past 5 years. This drug is a strong depressant that can produce dangerous and even fatal overdose symptoms. Knowing how to identify a GHB overdose and the steps to take once one is identified may help save an overdose victim’s life.

Signs & Symptoms Of A GHB Overdose

Some of the more common signs of a GHB overdose may include:

  • Disorientation and Confusion
  • Agitation or Aggression
  • Vomiting
  • Uncoordinated Movements
  • Low Blood Pressure and Body Temperature
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Slow and Irregular Breathing
  • Unconsciousness (with an inability to wake up)

Some of the signs of a severe GHB overdose can include:

  • Coma
  • Unresponsive Pupils
  • Diminished Reflexes
  • Loss of Bowel and Bladder Control

What To Do If Someone Overdoses On GHB

Medical help is necessary if someone wants the best chance of surviving a GHB overdose, however, there are some things that a bystander can do to improve an overdose victim’s chances of survival. Some of these include:

  1. Call Emergency Medical Help Immediately: Medical help is required if someone is to have the best possible chance at surviving, so call an ambulance as soon as possible.
  2. Provide Aid: If someone is unconscious, place them in the recovery position. Since vomiting is very common during GHB overdoses, this will prevent them from choking and asphyxiating.
  3. Stay With Them Until Help Arrives: Monitor the victim until medical help arrives, and be prepared to give paramedics as much information about the victim as possible.

While there is no FDA-approved medication for reversing a GHB overdose, there are medications that may be helpful. Regardless, supportive medical care is absolutely necessary, and the sooner this is received, the better.

Dangers

GHB is a powerful depressant and the dangers of a GHB overdose come from this strong depression of vital functions. Someone may stop breathing or their reflexes, such as the gag reflex, may become so depressed that they can easily choke and suffocate on spit or vomit. Furthermore, the confusion and aggression that sometimes emerge during a GHB overdose could lead to a wide range of potentially dangerous or deadly situations.

Prevention

The best way to avoid a GHB overdose is to stop using GHB. That being said, if someone is determined to use GHB, there are some things they can do to minimize the risks of an overdose. Some of these harm-reduction strategies may include:

  • Do Not Mix GHB With Other Drugs: The risk of GHB overdose increases as other drugs or alcohol are used. Avoid mixing GHB with any other substances.
  • Make Sure You Are Actually Using GHB: There are GHB analogues, such as GBL, which are more potent than GHB. Mistaking GBL for GHB could be fatal, as smaller amounts of GBL can have a much greater effect than GHB.

Treatment

If someone experiences a GHB overdose and continues to use GHB, it is usually only a matter of time before another GHB overdose occurs. If someone hopes to avoid this, the best chance they have is to enter a GHB rehab program. These programs can help someone stop using GHB, and begin a new life free of the threat of GHB overdoses.

Resources

The more someone knows about GHB overdoses, the better prepared they will be if and when they do encounter an overdose. Here are some additional resources to help someone become as informed and educated as possible about these potentially fatal overdoses.

High Alert: What You Need to Know About GHB/GBL

Let’s Talk About It: GHB/GBL “G”

Mainline: Overdose Prevention Among People Who Use GHB

Alcohol and Drug Foundation: The Hidden Harms of GHB

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