Gamma hydroxybutyrate

Category: Depressant

Also know as:

G, Gabba, Gamma-butyrolactone, GBH, GBL, GHB, Liquid Ecstasy


GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) is closely related to gamma-hydroxybutrate (GHB); both are dangerous drugs with sedative and anaesthetic effects. GBL converts to GHB shortly after entering the body. It is a common solvent used in products like paint strippers and stain removers. It is a colourless, odourless liquid. Sometimes it also comes in capsule form.

How it is taken

Users measure the drug out very carefully using a pipette or a syringe, or by filling pre-measured vials (small bottles) to avoid taking too much. If you don’t measure the dosage, you’re likely to overdose and fall unconscious.

Drinking GHB or GBL on its own would lead to chemical burns in your mouth and throat. Because of this, people take GHB and GBL orally by using a pipette, syringe or pre-measured vial to measure the dose and then mix it into a soft drink.

You can’t inject GBL, but some people inject GHB – although this is rare and particularly dangerous.

You can’t snort GBL (as it’s a liquid), but some people snort GHB powder, but this is also very rare.


GHB and GBL essentially produce the same effects but vary greatly in strength. They both produce a feeling of euphoria and can reduce your inhibitions and make you feel sleepy.


Short term:

Larger doses can cause drowsiness, sickness, disorientation, convulsions, coma and breathing difficulties. Can cause nausea, reduced heart rate, drowsiness, coma, hypothermia, seizures, unconsciousness, coma and death. Due to their effect GHB and GBL have been linked to drug-assisted sexual assault.

Long term:

Long-term effects are not well understood. Using both GHB and GBL can cause unconsciousness, coma and death. Even experienced users are at risk from death by intoxication. Taking these drugs with alcohol or other sedative drugs adds to the risk of harm. But it is also clear that they can cause death when taken on their own.

Legal status

GHB is a class C drug. This means they are illegal to have, sell or give away. GB (with its like chemical 1,4-butanediol – known as 1,4-BD) are Class C controlled drugs. This means that it is against the law to possess them, to give them away or to sell them for human ingestion. As GBL and 1,4-BD are chemicals used in industry they will continue to be available for legitimate use. But if someone supplies or possesses them knowing or believing that they will be swallowed and ingested, then they’ll be committing an offence. Possession of Class C drugs can get you up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Supplying Class C drugs to someone else, even your friends, can get you up to fourteen years in prison and/or an unlimited fine

If GHB and GBL are linked to drug assisted sexual assault, under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 and in England and Wales the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence to administer a substance to a person with the intent to overpower that person to enable sexual activity with them. Drug assisted sexual assault can get you a prison sentence. Learn more about drugs and the law.

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