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GHB Addiction Treatment  

GHB Addiction Treatment

Approximately 11.7% of Americans use illegal drugs and struggle with addiction each year. Many of these individuals don’t seek treatment, either unaware that a problem exists or of the treatment options available to them.

Addiction is a lifelong disease, but that doesn’t mean treatment can’t radically change your life. If you’re struggling with GHB addiction and need help, you have various treatment options when enrolling in a GHB addiction treatment center. Learn more about the substance, how it affects the body and what you can do to overcome addiction and reclaim your life.

What Is GHB?

What Is GHB?

GHB is the shortened name for gamma hydroxybutyrate, a chemical compound that depresses the central nervous system and is commonly used as a date-rape drug. The substance was first used in the 1960s as an anesthetic for surgery. In the 1980s, it began to be used as a club drug. GHB use can create a euphoric sensation at low doses, but high doses can cause blackouts or amnesia. GHB has a similar effect on the brain’s GABA receptors as alcohol and benzodiazepines.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers GHB a Schedule I substance, meaning there are no medical applications for the drug and a high potential for abuse. However, GHB is included as one ingredient in an FDA-approved drug Xyrem®, which is used to treat narcolepsy. This medication is highly controlled as a Schedule III substance.

The body naturally produces a low amount of GHB, but not nearly enough to experience any effects. GHB can also be found in certain foods, such as meat, but is also too low a dose to create an impact.

GHB has various street names, including liquid ecstasy, liquid X, Grevious Bodily Harm and Gamma Oh. People often take GHB illicitly to achieve a euphoric or sedative effect. Those who use GHB as a date-rape drug rely on the sedative effects to make their victims more pliable and the blackouts to cause them to forget what happens.

Some use GHB as an alternative to ecstasy. People who abuse GHB recreationally can become dependent on the substance, using it more frequently until they develop an addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of GHB Addiction

When a person becomes addicted to GHB, they’ll exhibit noticeable signs. Use these symptoms to decide whether it’s time to get help. Some of the signs of GHB dependence and addiction include:

  • Social isolation from friends and family
  • Losing interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Worsening physical and mental health
  • Falling behind on personal responsibilities, such as childcare or picking up around the house
  • Failing to be productive at work or showing up for your shift
  • Stealing or committing crimes to fund your addiction
  • Lying to family or friends about your substance use
  • Constantly thinking about obtaining or using GHB
  • Spending a lot of time getting or using GHB
  • Making unsuccessful attempts to quit
  • Feeling cravings when you can’t use GHB for a while
  • Continuing to use substances despite how they’ve affected your life
  • Feeling angry or irritable when you can’t use the drug
  • Participating in reckless activities or behaviors, such as driving under the influence or unsafe sex

A person with a GHB addiction will also exhibit various physical and mental symptoms, including:

  • Loss of motor controls
  • Increased depression, anxiety and other mental health symptoms
  • Incoherent or slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Frequent memory loss
  • Irritability or irritation
  • Unusual body language
  • Mood changes

Most people won’t experience all of these symptoms at once. GHB can present differently in some people, and they may appear to be using alcohol or ecstasy. If you’ve ruled out both substances, GHB might be the culprit.

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What Causes GHB Addiction?

What Causes GHB Addiction?

Addiction is a complex disease that causes changes in the brain and has several underlying causes. GHB addiction can arise from a single cause or a combination of risk factors, which include:

  • Genetics: Genetics can play a significant role in addiction. Parents with a history of addiction can pass this trait on to their children. Inheriting the trait can increase your risk of developing an addiction. While having a genetic factor for addiction doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to become addicted to GHB, you should be aware of your family history to determine your risk.
  • Environmental cues: Your environment plays a big part in influencing your behavior. If you’re surrounded by people who use substances or have normalized drinking or using drugs, you may be tempted to try them. You may also want to try GHB if you frequently attend parties or clubs with friends. Once you try GHB for the first time, you may continue using it, which will build your tolerance and dependence, creating an addiction.
  • Peer pressure: Our peers are some of the most influential people in our lives, especially adolescents. If your friends use GHB and have pressured you into taking it with them, you may have felt convinced to join them out of fear of judgment or isolation. If your peers continually pressure you to use GHB, you can quickly become addicted and may start using independently, even when your peers are absent.
  • Trauma: Traumatic events in childhood or adult life can cause a person to start using drugs like GHB. Trauma can cause numerous physical and mental effects, such as exhaustion, confusion, anxiety and an accelerated heartbeat. A person might try using substances to ease their symptoms and uncomfortable feelings, but the effects will only be temporary. Using substances to cover up symptoms of trauma without getting to the root of the problem can worsen many effects and create additional physical and psychological issues.
  • History of substance use: If you have a history of substance misuse in the past, you’re more likely to become dependent on another substance if you start using again. Your brain still remembers using substances in the past and may latch on to GHB as a replacement. Once you use GHB, you may start to desire the euphoric or sedative effects, building a dependence and tolerance for the substance and creating an addiction.
  • Mental health: Some people use substances like GHB to cope with their mental health conditions, causing co-occurring disorders. They may find that the drug helps relieve them of their uncomfortable feelings. However, frequent use can make mental health symptoms worse. Worsening symptoms can influence a person to start using more, creating a seemingly endless cycle of abuse.

Having one or more of these influential factors doesn’t automatically mean you’ll become addicted to substances such as GHB. However, these risk factors can cause an individual to depend on the substance. If you or a loved one has multiple risk factors for addiction, it’s essential to stay aware of how using a drug even once can spiral into a dangerous addiction.

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Short- and Long-Term Effects of GHB Addiction

Short- and Long-Term Effects of GHB Addiction

When a person has an addiction to GHB, they’ll experience various side effects directly after use and after a long period. These effects are due to the drug’s interference with the body and brain. When a person first takes GHB, they may feel:

  • A sense of euphoria
  • Clumsiness from impacted motor functions
  • Exhaustion and weakness
  • Amnesia
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches or confusion
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Seizures

These effects are the main reason GHB is often used as a date-rape drug. The substance can make it challenging for a person to stay awake or have control over their body, and the memory loss a person might experience on GHB can make victims forget what happened to them. People who take GHB recreationally also experience these effects, which can put themselves and others at risk of harm. 

As with many substances, long-term use of GHB can change the cells within the brain, creating a potential for dependence and addiction. Once a person stops using GHB after dependence has formed, withdrawal symptoms will take over, which can be similar to severe alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal. Without medical supervision, severe GHB withdrawal could be fatal. Some of the symptoms a person may experience include:

  • High blood pressure and heart rate
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances

A medical professional can treat many of these symptoms to lessen their severity. If you’re struggling with GHB addiction, it’s a good idea to work with a professional as part of a medical detox program to ensure that you can detox from the substance safely and reduce your risk of relapse. 

How to Know When It's Time for Treatment

How to Know When It’s Time for Treatment

If you or a loved one are trying to determine if it’s time for GHB addiction treatment, you can look for some signs to determine whether treatment is necessary. Consider the following when deciding about professional treatment:

  • Your addiction harms your life or those around you: Addiction can harm your physical and mental health, drastically impacting your life. Substances like GHB can also lower your inhibition, making it more likely for you to engage in dangerous activities, such as unsafe sexual activity. You should consider seeking professional treatment if you’ve noticed your health declining or have hurt someone due to substance use. 
  • You’ve tried to quit but can’t: If you’ve realized that you have a problem and tried to quit in the past but were unsuccessful, then it’s likely time for professional treatment. Professional addiction specialists can help you acquire the tools you need to quit and achieve long-term sobriety.
  • Your life has become about GHB: When a person becomes addicted to GHB, their whole life becomes about obtaining and taking the drug. If you or a loved one’s life revolves around the drug, then a professional treatment facility can help you regain your life and take the focus off the substance. 
  • Your life has taken a wrong turn: Substance abuse will take a significant toll on your life, such as relationships with friends and family members. If you’ve noticed that your personal or professional life has been suffering due to GHB misuse, then it’s time to seek treatment from a professional.
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Types of GHB Addiction Treatment

GHB addiction treatment has multiple elements to help you achieve sobriety. Here are the types of treatments you can expect from professional addiction treatment at a rehabilitation facility.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment

The first step towards recovery from GHB addiction is detoxing from the substance. There are severe withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting GHB, such as tachycardia, erratic breathing and hallucinations. Professional treatment programs can help you overcome the withdrawal symptoms and feel more comfortable.

One of the ways you can find comfort through withdrawal is medication-assisted treatment. These programs use medications to help reduce cravings, manage withdrawal symptoms and start recovery safely. Before you can begin medication-assisted treatment, you’ll go through an assessment with an addiction specialist. They’ll determine the severity of your addiction and what type of medication would best suit your needs.

The medication used in these programs can have multiple purposes. During the first stage of treatment, medication-assisted treatment can help you overcome your withdrawal symptoms or trick your body into thinking that you’re still taking GHB. Medication can also prevent certain substances from affecting you, making it less desirable to continue using GHB. Medication-assisted treatment is also used during relapse to help sustain long-term sobriety.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient Care

Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may need residential inpatient treatment. Inpatient care is ideal for individuals who don’t live in a sober or safe environment and need constant medical supervision to help with their detox. When you stay at a residential addiction treatment facility, you won’t have access to substances like you would in the outside world. You can recover away from outside influences, allowing you to detox from GHB.

You’ll also have access to 24/7 medical care and supervision. If you experience any uncomfortable symptoms or feelings, you can speak with a professional anytime for assistance. Another benefit of inpatient care is the structure it provides. Patients have a daily routine to follow, limiting the number of decisions to make each day. Routine and structure make it easier for patients to stay on track and focus on their recovery. You’ll also form positive habits that can help you once you reenter sober society.

One of the most significant benefits of inpatient care is that individuals have access to everything they need in one convenient location. You’ll receive personalized care to suit your individual needs and ensure that recovery is possible.

Inpatient treatment generally lasts 30, 60 or 90 days, depending on the severity of your addiction. Many people will transition to a lower intensity of care once they finish inpatient treatment to continue their recovery journey and sustain their sobriety.

Outpatient Care

Outpatient Care

Outpatient care is another option for individuals seeking treatment for GHB addiction. Outpatient care has many of the same treatment types as inpatient care, but individuals return home at the end of the day. This treatment is best for individuals with a safe and sober home environment. Individuals with outside responsibilities, such as childcare or work, are also excellent candidates for outpatient care.

The different levels of outpatient treatment include:

  • Intensive outpatient care:Intensive outpatient programs are for individuals who need the same intensity of care offered in inpatient programs but need to return to society after treatment to maintain their responsibilities, such as work, education or childcare. Intensive programs often meet multiple times a week for a few hours.
  • Partial hospitalization: Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are just as intense as inpatient care but allow you to return home at the end of the day. These programs are ideal for individuals with a robust support network at home who need the intensity and regularity of treatment offered in an inpatient program. You can think of PHPs as work or school. You’ll attend therapy throughout the entire day and return home in the evening. You’ll maintain this schedule about five days a week until you reach a point in your treatment where you can transition to something more independent.

Outpatient care is generally more affordable than inpatient care. For those with limited coverage or expecting to pay for treatment out-of-pocket, outpatient care can be an excellent option to help you achieve sobriety without the overhead costs associated with inpatient treatment.

The main benefit of outpatient care is the flexibility of treatment. Depending on your needs and schedule, you can attend meetings during the day, afternoon or evening. You can take care of your responsibilities and recover from addiction simultaneously. You’ll also have access to your support network outside of treatment, such as family members and friends who can support you through your recovery journey.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse Prevention

Detox and therapy are just a part of the addiction recovery process. Addiction is a lifelong disease, and relapse prevention can help you sustain your sobriety long after professional treatment. These programs can help you manage life stressors and triggers so you don’t fall back into old habits or rely on substances to cope.

The first step of the relapse prevention process is meeting with an addiction specialist to discuss your history with GHB. They’ll help you determine what triggers your substance use, such as family or work stress. Once you’ve identified your triggers, you’ll work with a professional to outline your potential responses.

For example, if a conflict with your family triggers your desire to use GHB, you’ll work on skills you can use instead of substance use. These skills include coping mechanisms such as meditating, journaling, exercise, yoga or art therapy. You’ll find the best method for you and apply it when you feel uncomfortable or stressed.

Part of relapse prevention also includes listing the members of your support group and their contact information, including family members, friends or peers from your community. You can call or talk to these individuals when you feel close to a relapse. They can help remind you why it’s essential to stay dedicated to sobriety and help you hold yourself accountable.

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The Process of Treating GHB Addiction

When you enter professional treatment for GHB addiction, you’ll follow a step-by-step process to help you achieve sobriety. Learn about the steps to know what you can expect from professional treatment.


1. Assessment

The first step of the addiction treatment process is the addiction assessment, which will help determine the intensity of your treatment. You’ll meet with an addiction specialist who will ask you specific questions to determine the severity of your addiction, including:

  • Are you currently under the influence of any substances?
  • Are you experiencing any withdrawal symptoms?
  • When did you start using GHB?
  • In what situations do you use GHB?
  • How often do you use GHB, and at what dose?
  • How has GHB affected your life and health?

While some of these questions may be uncomfortable to answer, it’s essential to be truthful about your experience with GHB so the addiction specialist can help curate a personalized treatment plan that will benefit you the most.

You’ll also undergo a physical and mental health evaluation during your assessment. These tests will help determine how GHB has affected your well-being and whether you need additional treatment at the rehabilitation center. If the evaluation determines that you have an underlying condition, you’ll be treated for both conditions simultaneously to improve your chance of success.


2. Detox

After your assessment, you’ll start the detox process, which could include medically-assisted detox to help you feel more comfortable and secure during your addiction treatment. You’ll be able to focus on therapy and speed along your recovery process. You’ll also have access to withdrawal management programs, which can help you manage the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. The psychological symptoms often linger long after the physical symptoms have faded, but you’ll learn the skills you need to manage these feelings.

During detox, you’ll have access to 24-hour care directed by a medical professional, so you can rest assured that you’re receiving high-quality professional care. You’ll have access to this care whether you’re in an inpatient or outpatient program.


3. Counseling

During your detox, you’ll begin your official treatment. You’ll participate in various types of therapy to help you get to the root cause of your addiction and reclaim your life. If you have a co-occurring mental health condition, you’ll receive simultaneous treatment to help you improve your well-being.

The different types of therapy you may experience in treatment include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy:Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that looks at your beliefs and values and determines how they affect your behavior. A counselor will walk you through these thoughts and help you make changes to influence positive change. You’ll focus on the present rather than the past and your history of addiction. You’ll also learn skills to help you deal with change and challenges in your life, helping you sustain your recovery.
  • Trauma-informed therapy: Trauma can impact you in various ways, creating physical and mental symptoms. People may choose to cope with their uncomfortable feelings by using substances such as GHB. Trauma-informed therapy helps you understand your trauma and healthy ways to cope with unpleasant emotions rather than turning to substances. You’ll also learn the necessary skills to cope with stressful or challenging situations. 
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy:Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) helps individuals accept where they are in life and commit to their treatment. If a person focuses on their past actions or fears for the future, it becomes challenging to accept the present. ACT helps you stay grounded in the moment to create and focus on your actionable goals towards sobriety. 
  • Motivational interviewing: Each person who enters addiction treatment is different. Some people enrolled themselves in rehab, ready to turn their lives around. Others are more resistant to treatment and don’t believe their substance use is as bad as it is. Motivational interviewing helps individuals see the real toll that GHB addiction is taking on their lives. This therapy helps individuals look at their situation’s reality to progress towards sobriety. 
  • Coping skills therapy: Learning how to manage challenging situations through coping skills therapy is essential to recovery. This therapy will help you learn the skills to handle your uncomfortable feelings and prevent a relapse. Some of these skills include meditation, journaling and exercising. 
  • Group and individual therapy: During treatment, you’ll participate in group and individual therapy sessions. Group therapy can help you connect with other individuals who share your experiences and feel less isolated during your recovery. You can also ask questions or vent your challenges in a judgment-free space. Members of your group can also become part of your support network and hold you accountable.

During treatment, you’ll likely participate in multiple types of therapy to get to the root of the problem. Therapy is just part of the solution to the addiction recovery process. Staying committed to your sobriety after treatment is essential to ensure long-lasting results.



Aftercare is an essential part of the treatment process to ensure long-term success. You’ll work with an addiction specialist to create a personalized aftercare plan as part of your treatment.

First, you’ll work on relapse prevention to ensure you have a plan in place to handle uncomfortable feelings or triggering situations. You’ll outline your response to these situations so you respond healthily rather than turning back to GHB. You’ll also list the names and contact information of your support network so you can call them if you feel like you’re close to a relapse.

Relapse prevention planning is just part of the aftercare process. You can also participate in 12-step support groups, which allow you to connect with other people going through similar experiences. You can ask questions, vent your frustrations or seek friendship from others who understand what you’re going through. Members of your support group can also help hold you accountable for sustaining your sobriety.

Another option for aftercare includes sober living homes. These homes provide a place for individuals to stay after their official treatment. Sober living homes are an excellent transition from full-time treatment to independent living. You can live independently but remain in a sober community with others going through the same thing. You’ll also have a routine to follow, which will give you the structure you need to readjust to sober living.

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Benefits of Seeking Treatment for GHB Addiction

Benefits of Seeking Treatment for GHB Addiction

Trying to quit independently can be challenging. Seeking professional treatment helps you be more successful and sustain your recovery. Professional treatment provides many other benefits, such as:

  • Various levels of care: Treatment at a professional facility gives you access to multiple levels of care personalized to your needs. You can work with an addiction specialist to determine your level of care. You’ll also have access to 24/7 care from medical professionals who can guide you through the recovery process and help you when you feel uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms or feelings.
  • Treatment of underlying issues: One of the most significant benefits of professional GHB addiction treatment is the treatment of underlying problems, such as mental health conditions or trauma. These underlying conditions are often one of the main reasons a person turns to drugs and becomes addicted to a substance like GHB. They’re using the drug to cope with uncomfortable feelings and symptoms. Professional treatment helps you get to the root of the problem and find healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the underlying issue.
  • Robust support: Professional treatment allows you to access a strong support network. You’ll work with medical professionals who can help you when you need support, but you’ll also be able to talk with others in group therapy who share your experiences. You’ll have ongoing support, regardless of where you are in your recovery. You can also offer your support to others going through recovery.
  • Structure and accountability: Professional treatment provides structure and accountability that you wouldn’t have if you were trying to overcome addiction on your own. The schedule will keep you busy with your treatment, giving you less time to make poor choices and preventing you from relapsing. The professional staff and members of your support group will also hold you accountable throughout your recovery, helping you stay sober and on track.
  • Improved health and well-being: GHB addiction significantly affects your health and personal life. You may have developed certain conditions and experienced worsening symptoms or created tension in your family and work life. Seeking treatment from an addiction treatment center can help you improve your health and personal well-being and get your life back.
  • Addiction education: Seeking treatment from an addiction center means you’ll have access to a plethora of knowledge about GHB and addiction. You’ll learn how addiction happens and GHB’s effects on the brain and body. Knowing the reality behind addiction can help you through your recovery and keep you committed to sobriety.

Seeking treatment from a professional addiction center can help you achieve recovery sooner and more successfully than if you tried to quit independently. You’ll have access to professional resources to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms, stress and triggering situations. You’ll also have ongoing support, which you may not have access to outside of professional treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About GHB Treatment

If you’ve never sought treatment, you likely have some lingering questions. Here are a few common questions people ask about GHB addiction treatment to help you thoroughly understand the process.

1. Will Insurance Cover My Treatment?

Thanks to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, your insurance provider is required to provide equal coverage for your addiction treatment as they would for physical conditions. It’s important to note that if you have limited coverage for physical ailments, you’ll have limited coverage for addiction treatment.

However, if you have insurance of any kind, you’ll have some coverage and won’t have to worry about paying for all the costs out of pocket.

2. What Medications Are Used in Detox?

Various types of medications are used in detox to assist with withdrawal and prevent relapse. The kind you use will depend on your unique needs.

Naltrexone and disulfiram block certain substances’ effects, so when you take them, you still feel sober. These medications help reduce the desire in individuals to take different substances.

Buprenorphine is used to deceive a person’s body and mind into believing they’re still taking substances so they don’t have to undergo severe withdrawal. It can also be used to reduce cravings, which can be helpful during withdrawal and during various stages of recovery to prevent a relapse.

3. How Can I Help a Loved One Through GHB Addiction?

If someone you love is struggling with GHB addiction, you can help them get treatment and sustain their recovery. When you talk with your loved one, emphasize that you care about them and only want to help. Understand that they may initially resist treatment and may not acknowledge that they have a problem. Here are a few things you can do to help your loved one seek treatment and support them during their journey:

  • Communicate effectively: When a loved one struggles with addiction, it can be challenging not to get frustrated since you care about their well-being and don’t want to see GHB addiction ruin their lives. However, practicing good communication skills is essential to prevent your loved one from feeling blamed. Practice empathy whenever you can and try to turn negatives into positives. Be honest about your feelings and how their addiction affects your life, but be careful not to criticize them.
  • Be patient: Understand that not all individuals will immediately be receptive to therapy. Some people don’t believe that their substance use is a problem or that it’s affecting their life. They may also feel shame or guilt about their substance use. Be patient as your loved one adjusts to the idea that they need treatment. Offer your support so they know they’re not alone during this time.
  • Help them find resources: One of the best things you can do for your loved one is to help them find addiction resources, such as counselors they can talk to or a professional treatment center. Finding these resources alone can often feel like a burden for someone already struggling with addiction’s physical and emotional effects. Taking this weight off your loved one’s shoulders can make them feel loved and help them seek treatment sooner. 
  • Understand relapse is common: It can be frustrating when your loved one goes through treatment but relapses. However, relapse happens to many people struggling with substance use, and it’s a common part of the recovery journey for many individuals. Learn what you can do to help your loved one if they relapse, and do your best not to judge them if it occurs. Remember to practice empathy as addiction is a chronic disease, and your support means the most to your loved one.

Let Gateway Foundation Help Your Overcome GHB Addiction

Let Gateway Foundation Help Your Overcome GHB Addiction

While addiction is a lifelong disease, achieving sobriety and managing your cravings and triggers is possible, allowing you to return to a fulfilling life. At Gateway Foundation, we are here to help you through every stage of your recovery. We have multiple levels of care to help you find a program that’s suited to your individual needs. We’ll also personalize your treatment plan to ensure you get the best care possible.

Addiction doesn’t have to stop you from taking back control of your life. Contact us today and learn how Gateway Foundation can help you find relief through GHB addiction treatment in Chicago and other cities in Illinois.