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Please note that GHB/ GBL content is split between two locations: the basics (here) and about and using G, which is geared more towards safer G use.

What it is and how it comes

  • Closely related, GHB and GBL are depressants/ sedatives with anaesthetic effects - downers (slowing down the body’s reactions and functions)
  • Other names include 'G' and 'Gina'
  • Usually comes as a colourless (sometimes slightly oily) liquid; and a white crystalline powder. Also comes as a paste or in capsules but this is less common.
  • When consumed (ingested) GBL is converted into GHB in the body.
  • Under UK law the drug is classified as Class B (Misuse of Drugs Act 1971).
  • GHB has a medical use to treat narcolepsy, while GBL is sold as a rust/ stain/ alloy wheel remover cleaner.

The difference between GHB and GBL

GHB and GBL are two closely related drugs often referred to simply as “G”.

GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate)

  • Produced as a white-ish salt powder and as a clear liquid with almost no smell and a soapy, salty taste
  • For recreational use on the chemsex scene, it is most usually found in clear liquid form (the salt powder dissolved in water)
  • It can also be found as a paste or in capsules though this is less common. These can be hand-filled with a syringe which makes accurate dosing very difficult.

GBL (gamma-butyrolactone)

  • An industrial-strength solvent used as an alloy cleaner paint stripper and for removing graffiti
  • Produced as a clear liquid and has a sharp, bitter chemical taste and smell
  • Turns into GHB once in the bloodstream
  • Can be 2-3 times stronger than GHB. The effects can come on quicker and be more unpredictable

Why knowing the difference between GBL and GHB matters

  • GBL is more likely to be the same purity as it is manufactured and sold as an industrial-strength cleaner. In fact, some of the websites and bottle labels state the purity as a percentage (eg: 99.7%). On the other hand, GHB is produced as a salt powder and dissolved into water which is why dose strength is more likely to vary.
  • If you are taking 'G' you should know beforehand whether it is GHB or GBL. This is because GBL may be two to three times stronger than GHB.
  • For example: if your 1ml dose of GHB is actually GBL, the strength may be the equivalent of taking 2-3ml. This level is more likely to lead to over-dosing (unconsciousness and coma), particularly if you have not tried it before or have a lower tolerance. The reverse is also true: if your 1ml dose of GBL is actually GHB, the actual strength may be 2-3 times less.

How it's taken

The time it takes to reach a desired high will often depend on your size, weight and metabolism; what you have already taken; the purity of the drug and the dose amount.
Reducing drug harm and risks | MEN R US

  • Orally and swallowing
    A measured dose is mixed with juice (eg: orange, cranberry) or other soft drink.
    Do not mix G with alcohol
  • Booty bumps
    Mixed with lubricant, drawn up into a syringe without the needle, and injected up the arse hole.
  • Injecting
    This is NOT advised 
  • Snorting
    This is NOT advised

Safer use

GBL/ GHB | Friday/ Monday | THT
GHB | SX Scot
GHB and GBL | Drug Science
G (GHB/GBL) | Antidote

About and using G | MEN R US
Click here if you would like a copy of our safer chemsex booklet.

Safer drug use, or harm reduction, and why it matters | MEN R US
Drug harms | MEN R US
Reducing drug harm and risk | MEN R US 


  • Check with your sexual health or HIV clinic.
  • Check out HIV Drug Interaction Checker: comprehensive, user-friendly drug interaction charts providing clinically useful, reliable, up-to-date, evidence-based information.

Interactions between HIV treatment and recreational drugs | NAM aidsmap
Recreational drugs and HIV meds | i-base
Recreational drugs and HIV | Terrence Higgins Trust

Desired highs

  • Feeling relaxed, more sociable, reducing inhibitions, horny, wanting more intense and extreme sex, euphoric, and drowsy.
  • Some say the effects are similar to alcohol.

Sex on G

  • Reduces ability and/ or makes it impossible to consent (agree) to anything. You may not be aware of what is happening, leaving you at risk of sexual assault, rape and murder. Conversely, you may commit a crime against someone else who hasn't freely given their consent.
  • It May result in more extreme sex you might not otherwise consider. Less likely to feel pain.
  • Longer and rougher sex can increase the likelihood of condom failure and tears/ sores/ bleeding (cock/ arse/ dick/ mouth), which may not be noticed at the time. 
  • It May result in compulsive/ repetitive wanking (masturbation) because you are so horny.
  • It May be difficult and/ or impossible to shoot your load (cum/ come)

Using G and the comedown

  • Sweating, nausea, headaches, vomiting; disorientation, delirium, amnesia, psychosis, severe agitation, paranoia; muscle numbness, seizures, convulsions; tachycardia; audio and visual hallucinations; loss of consciousness, coma, and death
  • Their combined effect can slow down your breathing. You may fall into a deep sleep (from which you cannot be woken up), fall into a coma and/ or die.
  • Do NOT use G if you have heart or breathing problems, high or low blood pressure, or epilepsy.

Addiction, dependency and other issues

  • You can become dependent on G with regular use.
  • Rules of thumb (guidance) include that you should not take another dose of G within two hours to reduce overdosing and do not take G for more than 2 days in a row to avoid developing tolerance and dependence.
  • Do not try withdrawal from G on your own as this can be very dangerous, sometimes fatal. If dependent, ALWAYS seek professional medical/ drug service support.
  • High risks associated with mixing G with other depressant drugs (downers), including alcohol, tranquilisers, ketamine and/ or medications, can make you drowsy.

For guidance on the following, click the link below:

  • Measuring and dosing
  • Drinking G with soft drinks
  • Timings and keeping a record of dose amounts and when they are taken
  • Overdosing
  • Mixing with alcohol and other drugs
  • Spiking drinks and lubricant

About and using G | MEN R US

Further information

GHB | Wikipedia
GBL | Wikipedia
GHB | Erowid
GHB (and GBL) | Release

This icon means there appears to be no noticeable activity in 6 months or more.

There's More to G Than Cock | Global Drug Survey | 5m 25s

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