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American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

GHB Detox and Withdrawal

GHB detox centers treat those suffering from addiction to GHB, also known as 4-hydroxybutanoic acid or sodium oxybate. GHB is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This means the drug has been proven to:

  • Have a high potential for abuse
  • Have no currently accepted medical use
  • Lack a confirmed safe dosage amount
  • Lack confirmed safety precautions

Schedule I drugs are normally unavailable in the United States without a special permit issued by the DEA for scientific purposes. GHB, however, is also the active ingredient in a Schedule III medication known as Xyrem, which is used to treat the most severe cases of muscle loss due to narcolepsy. Trafficking Xyrem is treated the same as trafficking in a Schedule I substance and is subject to the strictest sentences available under the Controlled Substances Act.

Small-scale production exists for illicit supplies of GHB because of its popularity in clubs, raves and parties. Some athletes have previously used the drug for its purported ability to enhance the effects of human growth hormones in the body. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health lists GHB as a date-rape drug due to its fast-acting ability to induce a loss of inhibitions and inebriation in users. If you suspect a loved one is suffering the effects of addiction to GHB or dependency related to the use of GHB, contact us at for a list of GHB detox centers in your area.

How GHB Detox Takes Place

Because of limited research on the substance, there is no single or universal method for GHB detox. The main goal of the detoxification process is to ensure the normal functioning of the user’s body processes and to remove the substance without causing undue stress or damage to internal organs. Because of GHB’s effects on the central nervous and respiratory systems, this can be a very dangerous period, and it is typically monitored by doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals at specialized detox centers.


Patients are usually admitted to the GHB detox center for the duration of the detoxification process. GHB usually leaves a user’s system within 12 hours of the last dose. This may take longer if the patient is also under the effects of alcohol or any other central nervous system depressants. Doctors continually monitor the patient during the detoxification process for signs of:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Slowed breathing or heartbeat
  • Aspiration
  • Vomiting
  • Acute delirium

These signs typically indicate a long history of GHB abuse or excessive amounts of GHB in the system of the patient. GHB overdose can lead to convulsions, aspiration and even death. Doctors at GHB detox centers may prescribe additional medications during the detoxification process to help ease withdrawal symptoms. These typically include benzodiazepines that can interfere with or ward off the central nervous system depressant properties of GHB. In extreme cases, doctors may administer a respiratory tube to provide automatic respiration to an unconscious or aspirating patient.

Call our support line at any time at for additional help or information on the processes used in GHB withdrawal treatment facilities.

Additional Considerations

At least 23.5 million people aged 12 or above required assistance with alcohol or drug addiction in 2009, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The same report concludes that only 2.6 million of these individuals received treatment at specialized care facilities, including GHB detox centers. The relative rarity of the drug means that not all centers will have access to the tools required to assist a patient with the detoxification process. Patients may need to travel to a larger nearby city or major hospital to ensure a safe detox procedure.

Those experiencing the effects of GHB overdose should be transported to the nearest medical facility, as overdose can be lethal in many situations. The most common risks from overdose are death by cardiorespiratory arrest or lethal accidents. For more information on GHB detox programs, rehabilitation, the processes involved, or the location of detox centers and support groups near you, call .


  • GHB appears naturally in some fermented beverages, including beers and wines. The levels of the drug present in these beverages are not enough to trigger noticeable effects.
  • The most common forms of GHB are colorless and odorless, but those used as date-rape drugs may possess a salty taste due to the combination of potassium or sodium salts used in their creation.
  • GHB was originally prescribed in parts of Europe to ease the pains of childbirth and to assist with troubled sleeping patterns. Xyrem is still commonly used in Italy to treat alcohol dependency and addiction.
  • More common, but less dangerous, signs of GHB withdrawal include anxiety, insomnia and tremors that typically subside within three days. Sufferers should seek the assistance of a GHB detox center if symptoms do not improve within that time frame.
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