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Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

Slang or Street Names: Grievous Bodily Harm, G, Liquid Ecstasy, Georgia Home Boy

  • GHB can be produced in clear liquid, white powder, tablet and capsule forms, and it is often used in combination with alcohol, making it even more dangerous. GHB has been increasingly involved in poisonings, overdoses, "acquaintance rapes" and fatalities.
  • GHB is usually abused either for its intoxicating/sedative/euphoriant properties or for its growth hormone-releasing effects, which can build muscles.
  • Some individuals are synthesizing GHB in home laboratories. Ingredients in GHB, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol, can also be converted by the body into GHB. These ingredients are found in a number of dietary supplements available in health food stores and gymnasiums to induce sleep, build muscles and enhance sexual performance.
  • GHB is a central nervous system depressant that can relax or sedate the body. At higher doses, it can slow breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels.
  •  GHB's intoxicating effects begin 10 to 20 minutes after the drug is taken. The effects typically last up to four hours, depending on the dosage. At lower doses, GHB can relieve anxiety and produce relaxation; however, as the dose increases, the sedative effects may result in sleep and eventual coma or death.
  •  Overdose of GHB can occur rather quickly, and the signs are similar to those of other sedatives: drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, impaired breathing and ultimately death.
  • GHB is cleared from the body relatively quickly, so it is sometimes difficult to detect in emergency rooms and other treatment facilities.

Rohypnol

Slang or Street Names: Roofies, Rophies, Roche, Forget-me Pill

  • Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines (such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax and Versed). It is not approved for prescription use in the United States, although it is approved in Europe and is used in more than 60 countries as a treatment for insomnia, as a sedative and as a preoperative anesthetic.
  • Rohypnol is tasteless and odorless, and it dissolves easily into carbonated beverages. The sedative and toxic effects of Rohypnol are aggravated by concurrent use of alcohol. Even without alcohol, a dose of Rohypnol as small as 1 mg can impair a victim for eight to 12 hours.
  • Rohypnol is usually taken orally, although there are reports that it can be grounded up and snorted.
  • The drug can cause profound anterograde amnesia, which means that individuals may not remember events that they experienced while under the effects of the drug. This may be why one of the street names for Rohypnol is "the forget-me pill," and why it has been reportedly used in sexual assaults.
  • Other adverse effects associated with Rohypnol include decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances and urinary retention.

Protect Yourself

Here are some precautions you can take:

  • Don't accept open drinks -- alcoholic or non-alcoholic -- from others you do not know or trust; this includes drinks that come in a glass.
  • When in bars or clubs, always get your drink directly from the bartender, and do not take your eyes off the bartender or your order. Don't use the waiter/waitress or let somebody go to the bar for you.
  • At parties, only accept drinks in sealed containers, such as bottles, cans or tetra packs.
  • Never leave your drink unattended or turn your back on your table.
  • Do not drink from open beverage sources like punch bowls, pitchers, tubs or community water/juice bottles.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open. If there is talk of date rape drugs or if friends seem "too intoxicated" based what they have ingested, leave the party or club immediately and don't go back.

Sources
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 5213, MSC 9561, Bethesda, MD 20892-9561 and http://teenadvice.about.com/