GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate)

NB! Drugs effects vary according to the psychological state and the health of the person concerned, the context in which the drug is taken as well as the quality of the drug and the quantity consumed.


GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) comes in the form of a soluble powder and sometimes in the form of a liquid (incorrectly called “liquid ecstasy”).

First used as an anaesthetic, it has been diverted from its medical use to become a recreational drug. GHB is a psychoactive substance which is:

  • illegal
  • synthetic
  • a tranquillizer.

Desired effects

  • Euphoria, relaxation, disinhibition, drunken state
  • Amplified ability to communicate
  • Hallucinations

Physical symptoms

  • Intense heat
  • Muscular relaxation
  • Vomiting

Immediate risks

  • Dizziness, nausea, slowing of heart rate, breathing difficulties
  • Coordination problems, loss of speech control, muscular spasms
  • Loss of consciousness, of memory and feeling (risk of being raped or attacked)
  • High risk of overdose: cardiac arrest, death (increased risk if mixed with alcohol or another drug)

Long-term risks

  • Tolerance and risk of overdosing
  • Physical and psychological dependence
  • Delirium
  • Withdrawal: anxiety attacks, trembling, insomnia, muscular cramps, high blood pressure, paranoia, hallucinations


Sciensano collects data and analyses the consumption of drugs, the drug market, the consequences for health, requests for treatment and the policies implemented with regard to drugs in Belgium.

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