GHB and GHB Addiction
GHB addiction is a serious problem that has greatly increased in the past decade. According to a 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 30 million Americans over the age of 12 have used a sedative (a category of drugs that includes GHB) for non-medical purposes at least once in their life. Also, 1.2 percent of 12th graders used GHB over the past year in 2008. GHB addiction has serious short term and long term physical and psychological effects. Date rape and other forms of sexual assault have been linked to GHB addiction and usage.
GHB abuse and addiction is a serious medical illness that requires treatment like other types of more well-known drug addictions. GHB abuse in the long term can lead to serious physical effects such as liver failure, seizures, and even fatal respiratory problems. Numerous long term psychological effects are also associated with GHB abuse. GHB treatment typically is required due to the seriousness of the withdrawal symptoms of GHB addiction. Drug rehab centers are primarily used for GHB treatment because of their effectiveness at handling difficult GHB detoxifications and their ability to successfully treat the psychological effects of GHB abuse.
Effects of GHB
Scientists are currently researching what the long term effects of GHB abuse are on the body and brain. Right now, it is known that GHB gets users high through several effects on the brain. GHB interacts with GABA receptors and transmitters in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that is affected by the intake of GHB along with several other neurotransmitters. GHB is also shown to increase acetylcholine and serotonin levels and reduce dopamine activity in the brain.
In the short term, the drug causes memory loss, and it has a sedative effect on its users. GHB is often slipped into drinks by sexual predators as the drug is capable of incapacitating a person or rendering them unconscious, especially in combination with alcohol. Physical GHB symptoms include drowsiness, decreased body temperature, vomiting, slowed respiration, decreased heart rate, and verbal incoherence. In larger doses, severe GHB symptoms can include coma, seizure, respiratory failure, and death.
Extended use of GHB has been linked to depression, psychological problems, and suicidal tendencies in numerous GHB addiction cases. GHB symptoms of withdrawal can be quite severe in GHB addicts, and the drug is considered to be physically addictive. In some cases of GHB addiction, addicts report strange psychological phenomena such as auditory hallucinations. GHB addiction is characterized by difficulty in ceasing use of the drug. In many cases of GHB addiction, a tolerance of the drug develops, and GHB addicts may require larger doses in order to get a high from the drug.
Symptoms of GHB Addiction
As it is with other drug addictions, the sooner a GHB addiction is spotted the better. The goal is to get the patient as quickly as possible into GHB treatment. However, GHB addiction can be treated at drug rehab centers regardless of how long a person has been addicted to the drug. In order for one to spot GHB addiction, there should be vigilance and awareness of some of the signs and symptoms associated with GHB addiction.
GHB addicts may show several psychological and mood changes which may be strange and uncharacteristic of the person. GHB addicts may show exhaustion, irritability, a desire to use more of the drug or vocal cravings for the drug, mood swings, headaches, insomnia, and avoidance of work and school in order to use the drug. They often suffer from poor performance at work as school as well. The physical symptoms of GHB use as previously described should certainly be looked out for as well.
GHB abuse affects almost every societal group and demographic. There is a higher rate of use among adolescents, teenagers, and young adults. Individuals from the age of 18 to 25 accounted for 58 percent of all GHB associations with drug related emergency department visits. However, this does not mean that other age groups are not as likely to be GHB addicts, and GHB addiction should be monitored in any person who is suspected of abusing GHB or other drugs.
GHB Addiction and GHB Treatment
GHB addiction can be challenging to treat because of physical addiction, psychological addiction and a difficult withdrawal process. GHB treatment must include treating the underlying causes for the patient’s GHB abuse. There are a variety of GHB treatment options available for cases of GHB abuse and GHB addiction. Drug rehab centers that specialize in GHB abuse and addiction are the best option for GHB treatment because they provide a safe and medically supervised detox facility. GHB treatment facilities that are a part of traditional drug rehab centers also offer specialized counseling for addicts.
There are typically a number of drug rehab centers that are capable of treating GHB abuse or GHB addiction. If there is any question or concern, a local center may be contacted to confirm their capabilities and facilities for GHB treatment. GHB treatment includes a number of psychological therapies that are focused on developing and maintaining the psychological and emotional well-being of the patient as well.
GHB is both psychologically and physically addictive which makes GHB detoxification and withdrawal more complicated than other drugs. GHB becomes addictive when it is taken on a regular basis. In cases of GHB addiction, the drug is used for a variety of reasons. GHB abuse includes the use of the drug as a sleeping aid, weight loss product, exercise aid, anti-aging drug, and as an anti-depressant. GHB addicts often deny that the drug is dangerous or problematic, and addicts may also be known to abuse other drugs such as alcohol or other “club drugs.”
When GHB intake is abruptly stopped, GHB addicts develop some immediate side effects such as sweating, anxiety, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. Other withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, restlessness, tremors, anxiety, sweating, loss of appetite, irritability, chest pain, dysphoria, sensitivity to sight and sound, and muscle and bone aches. These symptoms may go on for anywhere from 2 to 21 days or longer. Severe GHB addiction cases have withdrawal symptoms similar to alcohol withdrawal and may include convulsions or hallucinations. Severe GHB addiction cases are without question best handled by GHB treatment centers.
In the case that a person is substantially addicted to GHB, there may be a need for a detoxification process. Addiction and medical professionals at drug rehab centers will make a diagnosis and recommend detoxification as required. The process of GHB detox often requires the use of supplementary medications to treat the severe symptoms. Benzodiazepines such as lorazepam, diazepam, and chlordiazepoxide are used to treat withdrawal symptoms of GHB abuse and GHB addiction. Detox at a GHB rehab facility will typically take anywhere from 7 to 14 days or longer. Due to the potential severity of GHB symptoms of withdrawal, patients are best suited to undergo GHB treatment at a GHB rehab facility.