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Difference Between GBL vs GHB & Fact Sheet

Difference Between GHB and GBL. GHB and GBL Effects. Are GHB and GBL Addictive? GHB and GBL Drug Addiction Treatment 

What Is GHB? 

GHB drug (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate) is a depressant that occurs naturally in the brain and has sedative and anesthetic effects. Depressant substances slow down the brain’s activity and other parts of the central nervous system [1]. Other drugs that have depressant effects include alcohol, heroin, and benzodiazepines. In addition, recreational use of the drug can quickly progress to GHB drug addiction, and quitting the drug can be hellish and often leads to withdrawal from GHB. Recovery professionals recommend beginning the first phase of treatment in a supervised facility. This will all start by undergoing medically assisted GHB detox in an inpatient drug rehab.

GHB and GBL are used as a club or rave drugs. It still has a reputation with younger people as being an alternative to ecstasy. It produces feelings of euphoria and sociability, and it is still considered to be an aphrodisiac. Predators still use this drug as a date rape drug. It can produce memory loss and unconsciousness when given to individuals who take it unsuspectingly. Despite its use, many of the reputed properties of this drug, such as its ability to increase muscle mass, as an aphrodisiac, and as an athletic performance enhancer, are mostly fictitious.

A GHB and GBL overdose is a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention.
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The drug GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) occurs in two forms:

  • Sodium oxybate or gamma-hydroxybutyrate sodium goes by the trade name Xyrem and is approved for the treatment of the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Xyrem is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance.
  • GHB also refers to a synthetic and illicit version of the drug that is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA [2]. This article focuses on the issues associated with the illicit version of GHB.

Some experts consider GHB and GBL more dangerous than other so-called date-rape drugs because it can be easily manufactured in home labs from readily available ingredients. The ingredients are frequently sold over the Internet to teens and young adults. The drug can be extremely dangerous, causing seizures, severe respiratory depression, and fatal comas. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has documented 72 deaths relating to GHB and its derivatives.

Colorless and odorless, the drug is often used to spike the drinks of women, knocking them out or making them unable to stop a sexual advance. Once ingested, it takes effect within 10 to 20 minutes and lasts up to four hours. The drug causes those who have ingested it to suffer a complete blackout, making it difficult to press charges against an aggressor. 

Effects of GHB

Generally, the effects of GHB are felt within 15 minutes and last for around three hours. GHB effects vary greatly depending on the amount used. A small increase in amount can result in a dramatic increase in its effects. This is one of the most dangerous aspects of using GHB. There is a very small difference between the amount a person may take to produce the desired effect and the amount that results in GHB overdose.

In moderate amounts, GHB can produce feelings of:

  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Sociability
  • Euphoria
  • Lack of inhibition
  • An increased urge for sex
  • Heightened sensitivity to touch

High Dose Effects of GHB

High doses of GHB can result in: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Vomiting 
  • Tremors 
  • Tunnel vision 
  • Loss of coordination (ataxia) 
  • Confusion, irritation, and agitation 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Blackouts and memory lapses 
  • Seizures 
  • Coma 
  • Respiratory arrest (stopping breathing) and death

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What Is GBL? 

Gamma butyrolactone (GBL) is a chemical. People use it as medicine. Be careful not to confuse GBL with gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or butanediol. GHB and GBL are two closely related drugs. Both drugs are often used recreationally in club settings to achieve a euphoric, disinhibiting effect and by bodybuilders to promote growth hormone production.

Since no amount of GHB and GBL has been deemed safe, it is easy for users to experience GHB overdose by accident.

GBL is a liquid compound that serves as an intermediate when making pyrrolidones, industrial chemicals that are in wide use. Drugs GBL is sometimes taken as a recreational drug being metabolized in the body producing an active substance called “Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate”, or GHB, a compound listed in the Schedule I controlled substance – the drug category that has a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological and physical dependence [4].

GBL is two to three times as potent as GHB, and its effects are felt faster. This makes it a far greater risk for overdose than GHB, but both drugs can have serious downsides from overconsumption, up to and including coma and death. The drug was linked to almost 40 overdoses at a single music event in Melbourne, Australia, in 2017.

How It’s Used?

Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) is an industrial chemical and is available for legitimate use in industry. However, if someone supplies or possesses them knowing or believing that they will be swallowed and ingested, they are committing an offense. GBL is typically marketed for sale as a cleaning solvent or polish. GBL is a clear liquid with a chemical smell and bitter taste. GBL is usually swallowed in its liquid form, often mixed with water or a soft drink. 

Never mix GBL and alcohol as these 2 substances interact and can lead to death.  Less often it is snorted or inhaled. Less often it is snorted or inhaled. Injecting drugs GBL is dangerous. GBL abuse became popular among teens and young adults at dance clubs and “raves” in the 1990s, and gained notoriety as a date rape drug.

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Difference Between GHB and GBL

Because GBL and 1,4 BD are precursors (also known as prodrugs) to GHB, they have to convert to GHB in the body. This makes them potentially stronger and more unpredictable. GBL, 1,4-BD, and GHB all have different potency and onset times. GHB and GBL are most commonly taken orally in liquid form; the powder is not commonly snorted, but dissolved in the fluid.

GBL is generally stronger than 1,4-BD and GHB, which means you need less of it. It generally has a faster onset time than GHB, while 1,4-BD has a slower onset time than GHB. The speed at which you feel the effects can be impacted by a number of factors, including your metabolism, tolerance, and the purity or strength of the GHB/GBL/1,4-BD.

GBL and 1,4-BD are sold as GHB or simply just as G, so it’s difficult to know exactly what you’re taking and how it will affect you. Some of these descriptors may help you identify which substance you have, but they may not always be accurate. Because GHB has a steep dosage response, a tiny increase in dose can cause a big increase in effects.

GHB and GBL Effects

A standard dose of GHB in liquid form is 1.5 – 2ml or 1.5 – 2g of solid. A standard dose of GBL is between 0.9ml and 1.5ml in liquid form or 0.9-1.5g in solid form. A high dose of GBL is >3g, and a high dose of GHB is >4g. GBL feels far more potent, though, so you need far less of it to feel the effect.

Doses above 2ml of liquid or 2g of solid GBL can result in heavy sleep, where people can choke on their own vomit and die if they’re not placed in the recovery position. Doses above 10g of solid or 10ml of liquid GHB have been associated with death.

Are GHB and GBL Addictive? 

Yes. Both GHB and GBL can be addictive, especially if the drugs are used regularly for a period of weeks or months. Even a couple of weeks of daily use can lead to dependence. Everyday use can result in a heightened tolerance to, and dependence on, the drug. When dependence begins, it tends to result in strong cravings, depressed moods, insomnia, and anxiety unless the user takes a dose every few hours.

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Even a couple of weeks of daily use can lead to dependence. Everyday use can result in a heightened tolerance to, and dependence on, the drug. When dependence begins, it tends to result in strong cravings, depressed moods, insomnia, and anxiety unless the user takes a dose every few hours. If you have taken GBL for more than seven days in a row, Do not attempt to stop by yourself. 

It is crucial to remember that, once dependence on GBH and GBL is established, quitting “cold turkey” can lead to serious health risks and even death. Withdrawal should be a tapered process with medical supervision. Users are cautioned if they feel sweaty, shaky, or anxious when they stop using this substance. Other symptoms of withdrawal include confusion, insomnia, delirium, and hallucinations. The onset of withdrawal can begin 1-2 hours after the last dose and can progress rapidly. Withdrawal can last up to 12 days.

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GHB and GBL Drug Addiction Treatment

Now we learned what is GBL drug is, the difference between GBL vs GHB, and how GBL drug is converted (metabolized) into GHB in the body. It is important to ask “How long does GHB stay in your system?” and understand how the GBL drug test works. Since many individuals who experience symptoms of GHB overdose are abusing the drug or other substances, it is recommended that recovering users seek help at an addiction treatment program. A wide variety of options are available to help the person stop using drugs or alcohol and avoid serious side effects from substance abuse. Many GBL users respond well to residential rehab programs. 

If you are experiencing withdrawal GHB, it’s crucial to first get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional. 

Medically-Assisted Detox

Medical Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of GHB withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient rehab treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of GHB withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term drug abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

Medical detox can help reduce needless harsh withdrawal suffering while minimizing the risks of GHB drug withdrawal

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[1] NCBI –
[2] DEA –
[3] NCBI –
[4] NCBI –
[5] NCBI –
[6] GHB Detox – We Level Up NJ

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