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About and using G

GHB AND GBL | MENRUS.CO.UKThe 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

GBL (gamma-butyrolactone)

  • An industrial-strength solvent used 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 it matters | Three Flying Piglets film for MEN R US | 2020 | 30s

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 maybe 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 maybe 2-3 times less.

GHB and GBL | Release
GHB | Wikipedia
GBL | Wikipedia
GHB/ GBL | Drugwise
Serial killers and rapists | MEN R US

Effects

  • On the upside: G can make you feel relaxed, more sociable, horny, reducing inhibitions (wanting more intense and extreme sex), euphoric and drowsy.
  • On the downside: the effects of G can include: sweating, nausea, headaches, vomiting; disorientation, delirium, amnesia, psychosis, severe agitation, paranoia; muscle numbness, seizures, convulsions; tachycardia; audio and visual hallucinations; loss of consciousness, coma, death
  • GHB and GBL are central nervous system (CNS) depressant drugs which mean they have a sedative effect on the body, slowing reaction times down, similar to being drunk on alcohol (including loss of body control).


Sweets from strangers | Three Flying Piglets film for MEN R US | 2020 | 27s

The law

  • GHB is a Class C drug, which means it's illegal to have for yourself, to give away, or sell.
  • Possessing GHB can get you up to two years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.
  • Supplying someone else with GHB, friends or sexual partners, for example, can get you up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. Supplying need not be for money or profit. The legal definition is very wide and can be simply knowingly passing on to another.
  • If the police catch you supplying illegal drugs in a home, club, bar or sauna, for example, they can prosecute the landlord, club owner or any other person concerned in the management of the premises.
  • GBL is available for legitimate use in industry, but if someone supplies or possesses it knowing or believing that it will be swallowed and ingested, they are committing an offence.
  • If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence. Due to the similarities with alcohol such as possible slurred speech and loss of coordination the risk to you and others both in terms of detection and inflicting harm on others is likely to be increased. Do not drive if you have used G.
  • The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that it is an offence to administer a substance, like GHB and GBL, to a person with the intent to overpower that person to enable sexual activity with them. This can mean up to 10 years’ imprisonment. This is why it is sometimes called a ‘date rape’ drug.

The Law and GHB (and GBL) | Release
Your rights on arrest | MEN R US
Ambulance call-outs and the police | MEN R US

Measuring

  • Measure and check your own doses ideally using a 1ml or 2ml plastic syringe
  • G will strip (melt) off syringe markings though putting a piece of clear tape over the markings can slow this down. Ideally, have spare syringes to hand
  • Asking someone else to watch you prepare a dose is always a good idea
  • It's easy to overdose on G because there’s a small difference between a dose that causes the effect you want and a dose which leads to an overdose
  • It’s easier to make mistakes measuring doses when you are high or trying to measure a dose in low light
  • It can be especially tricky measuring doses accurately using pipettes or soy sauce fish-shaped bottles. Though they look similar, they can hold different amounts, even by a small amount

Dosing

  • The effects of G come on quickly within 10-20 minutes
  • Batches of G may differ slightly in strength. Check a new batch by taking a smaller dose than usual, waiting at least 60-90 minutes before taking the next dose
  • G is extremely dose sensitive. Even a slightly higher dose than normal can cause you to pass out, lose consciousness, and/ or fall into a coma
  • The effects of G are likely to differ depending on your weight, size, metabolism, what you've eaten, and any other drugs you have taken
  • Reducing the amount, you take and increasing the time between doses can help reduce the likelihood of overdosing or passing out
  • You reduce the likelihood of drug harms by taking less G than more - though any dose can cause serious problems
  • It’s not uncommon to feel nauseous or be sick the first time you take G

Dosing amounts (ml)

  • .5ml - 1 ml is a common starting dose
  • 1 - 1.5 ml has been described as a 'sweet' or 'happy' spot
  • 1.5 - 2 ml can be a 'sweet' or 'happy' spot for those with higher tolerances
  • 2.5 - 3 ml might be a dose for those with higher tolerances, but you are more likely to pass out and fall into unconsciousness, coma, and die
  • 3 ml and above might be OK for those with high tolerances, but you are much more likely to pass out and fall into unconsciousness, coma, and die
  • The effects of G are likely to differ depending on your weight, size, metabolism, what you've eaten, and any other drugs you have taken


The Droplet | Three Flying Piglets film for MEN R US | 2020 | 30s

Drinking G with soft drinks

  • A dose of G is usually taken with a soft drink like cranberry or orange juice to mask the taste. Some flavours work better than others
  • Used glasses should be rinsed out properly first
  • Only drink from a glass you prepared or given to you by someone you know and trust
  • Drinking G straight from the bottle (neat/ unmixed) is highly dangerous and can cause damage to your teeth, mouth, throat and stomach

Timings and keeping a record of dose amounts and when they are taken

  • Accurately timed doses reduce the likelihood of passing out and overdosing
  • Never dose again in less than 60 minutes, but some recommend waiting 2-3 hours
  • If you are uncertain, slow down or STOP
  • It’s also a good idea to keep a ‘tracking sheet’ with names, dosing times and the number of doses to help everyone keep track of what you and others have taken. This can be as simple as a sheet of paper with names down the side and times/ does along the top. Alternatively, keep track by using your phone’s notepad function and stopwatch

Tracker Sheet | A4 Landscape | PDF | English | PIP PAC
Tracker Sheet | A4 Landscape | PDF | English | Deutsche | Français | PIP PAC and Aids-Hilfe Switzerland

Overdosing

  • Overdosing on G can lead to unconsciousness and coma and/ or result in death. Side effects include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of coordination, and muscle spasms.
  • It's easy to overdose on G because there’s a small difference between a dose that causes the effect you want and a dose which leads to an overdose.
  • Even careful dosing can turn into an overdose leading to loss of consciousness and increased vulnerability.
  • Be aware that different concentrations of the drug exist and you should only increase your dose incrementally allowing time for the full effects to kick in before taking more.

Mixing with alcohol and other drugs

  • Never use G if you are by yourself as you are putting yourself at extreme risk
  • G is a depressant and mixed with other depressants and sedatives increase the chances of things going wrong and overdosing even if they are taken several hours apart
  • Never mix G with alcohol, opioids (heroin, codeine), tramadol, benzodiazepines (Xanax, diazepam) and ketamine. For example, ketamine’s anesthetic effects combined with GHB’s depressant properties, greatly increases the likelihood of overdose
  • Some HIV medications interact with G (and other drugs), so you should have a conversation with a health professional you trust first. See below.
  • If you pass out, your breathing passage can become blocked, and you could suffocate and die
  • Do not be afraid to call emergency services. Click here for more

Spiking drinks and lubricant

Drink spiking is when alcohol or drugs are added to drinks without an individual knowing - so without their consent. There are a small but increasing number of reported instances of drinks and lubricants being spiked with G with the intent of sexual assault, rape, and murder, including burglary and theft.

  • G is added to soft drinks
  • G is mixed with lubricant for sex, before and during
  • G is mixed in syringe lubricant applicators (syringe-type devices without needles) and inserted up the bum

What to do:

  • Measure, check and drink your own doses and don’t leave drinks unattended
  • If you come back to a drink later throw it away, wait an hour before dosing again, starting slowly
  • Take a supply of your own lubricant if playing with a partner(s) for the first time
  • Ensure consent is given freely and safe words are agreed

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that it is an offence to administer a substance, like GHB and GBL, to a person with intent to overpower that person to enable sexual activity with them. This can mean up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Sexual Offences Act 2003 | Wikipedia

Consent

Words like ‘consent’, ‘sexual assault’ and ‘rape’ may be new in that it has only been recently that they are being talked about more openly, particularly in relation to gay men. Holding up a mirror to our sex lives can be difficult for many reasons; and for many gay men, it’s hard to believe that we may be the victim of sexual assault or rape. Or that we may be committing a crime ourselves.

Sex without consent is a crime. Talking about this stuff is not easy, particularly when we’re high and horny. If something has happened to you, you may not even have found the words yet. Whether it’s a feeling … sense … or hazy memory: talk to a friend, go to a sexual health clinic, or phone a helpline. The link below includes details of support organisations.

Sex and consent | MEN R US

HIV medication and drug interactions

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


Out of this world | Three Flying Piglets film for MEN R US | 2020 | 32s

Watching out for others, overdose situations and the emergency services

  • Hopefully, you will keep an eye out for mates and sex buds, and they’ll do the same for you
  • If you spot someone who may be in trouble, ask, and check they’re OK
    If you are trained or qualified, place them in the recovery position. But remember: even with the best of intentions, you can do more harm than good if you are not trained or qualified, with possible legal implications if something goes wrong, Click here for me
  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance and stay with them until the emergency services arrive
  • Calling an ambulance in an overdose situation can save lives. Ensuring friends get the right medical help if they need it is the top priority. However, there have been occasions when an ambulance has not been called because guys are fearful the police will turn up as well, and that if there are drugs or there has been a fatality, this could lead to arrest and investigation. Click here for more

Addiction (or dependence) and withdrawal

  • Regular use of GBL builds tolerance, meaning users need to take more to feel the same effects
  • G has the potential of being highly addictive and daily/ regular use can lead to severe, physical withdrawal symptoms which require medical help. If you have been taking G regularly for long periods, you can become dependent
  • Don’t use for more than two days in a row to reduce the likelihood of developing a physical dependency to G and the risk of dangerous withdrawal
  • For users physically dependent on G, one of the biggest risks is the rapid onset of ‘withdrawal syndrome’, which can be potentially fatal. Within a few hours of their last dose, they start to develop cravings for more G and can become anxious, sweaty, agitated, and confused
  • In a matter of hours, withdrawal can rapidly escalate, progressing to hallucinations, delirium and life-threatening seizures
  • Users experiencing these symptoms are likely to require admission to an accident and emergency department (A&E)
  • It can be very dangerous to suddenly stop so seek support talk from a drug service, GP or A&E before attempting to stop

Check out our drugs and chemsex support section here.

GHB/ GBL | Antidote @ London Friend (London)
GHB: The High-way code | Global Drug Survey
GHB: going over and getting hooked | Global Drug Survey

Storing and decanting

  • Shake the bottle before measuring a dose as G can settle causing later doses to be stronger than earlier ones
  • GBL is usually sold in larger bottle quantities (eg: 1 litre) which is why it's decanted into smaller containers to a syringe or pipette can be inserted
  • Put bottles/ storage containers out of the way so people don’t pick it up thinking it’s water
  • Some people dye their G with blue food colouring to distinguish it from water and help prevent accidental dosing
  • Pre-measured doses are sometimes contained in soy fish bottles; heat-sealed straws or refillable pill capsules

Thank you

Huge thanks to the volunteers who give their time freely to research and write this complex section. Contributors include A, H, N, C, V, L, G, K, D, B, F, T and P. We are not doctors or substance misuse professionals, rather a group of gorgeous informed gay men, passionate about sex and our health, with direct experience of drug use, addiction, withdrawal, and recovery. Let us know if you have a suggestion.

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