Street Names:

"Liquid Ecstasy," "Soap," "Easy Lay," "Georgia Home Boy," "Grievous Bodily Harm," "Liquid X," and "Goop"

"...Rape drugs make it relatively easy for rapists to gain control of their victims. Perpetrators do not have to overcome any form of resistance. They do not have to threaten to harm the victim to get compliance. Nor do they have to be concerned about a victim's screams attracting attention. The drugs they administer immobilize and silence the victim." Gail Abarbanel, Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center

Chemical Composition:

GHB is produced in clandestine labs using a substance called Gamma Butyrolactone (GBL), an industrial solvent found in acetone-free nail polish removers, floor cleaning products and lye (sodium hydroxode). It is either a white- or sandy-colored powder or an odorless and colorless liquid. It tastes like salt water.

In 1990, the FDA banned GHB; prior to that it was available through health food stores and marketed as both a sleep aid and as a bodybuilding supplement.

 

Characteristics:

GHB is a central nervous system depressant that induces an early sense of euphoria and intoxication followed by relaxation, drowsiness and confusion. Victims are rendered unconscious, unable to fight back, unable to remember and very susceptible to rape, date-rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes of violence. GHB is addictive and causes severe withdrawal symptoms. It is used to counteract the stimulant effects of Ecstasy/MDMA.

Methods of Use:

GHB is generally consumed orally as a powder dissolved in water or alcohol or as a liquid. When GHB is added to alcohol the effects are enhanced. It is usually found in water bottles and sold by the capful.

"Victims were in what seemed like a comfortable social environment, such as a restaurant, party, or club. Unbeknownst to them, someone slipped a drug into their drink. As they consumed the drink, they began to feel disoriented or sick. The next thing they remembered was waking up hours later, sometimes in a different location." Gail Abarbanel, Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center

The effects begin 15-30 minutes after the drug is taken and lasts 3-6 hours.

GHB has been used in the commission of sexual assaults because it renders the victim incapable of resisting and may cause memory problems. It is called a "Predatory Drug."

"One victim was told, 'he has his memory, you don't have yours. There's no evidence. The case is closed.' " Gail Abarbanel, Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center

GHB was once sold in health food stores as a releasing agent for growth hormones that would stimulate muscle growth.

Risks:

GHB can cause slowed heart rate, lowered blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, coma, seizures, respiratory distress, loss of consciousness and death. It can produce amnesia, delusions, depression, vertigo, and hallucinations.

Sources:

"Pharmacology of 'Club Drugs': Ecstasy, GHB, and Ketamine"
David V. Gauvin, Ph.D.
Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section
Office of Diversion Control
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C.
www.dea.gov

"Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) Fact Sheet"
Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse / July 2001
Executive Office of the President
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Washington, D.C.
www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov

"An Overview of Club Drugs"
Drug Intelligence Brief / February 2000
Intelligence Division
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C.
www.dea.gov

"Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid"
Office of Diversion Control
Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section
Drug Enforcement Administration
Washington, D.C. 20537
www.dea.gov

"Learning From Victims," Gail Abarbanel, LCSW
"Drug-Facilitated Rape: Looking for the Missing Pieces,"
Nora Fitzgerald and K. Jack Riley
National Institute of Justice Journal, April 2000