GHB use among Australians: characteristics, use patterns and associated harm

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2002 Jun 1;67(1):89-94. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(02)00017-0.


The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) users, their GHB and other drug use patterns, and the harms associated with GHB use. Seventy-six GHB users were recruited and administered a structured interview on GHB use and related harms. GHB users appeared to be a stable, highly educated and well-functioning group. They had had extensive experience with a range of drugs, and GHB was typically used in conjunction with other drugs. Despite the fact that most GHB users had not had a long or extensive experience with GHB use, the proportion reporting significant negative side effects when using GHB was high (99% reported at least one), and the mean number of side effects ever experienced was 6.5. Notably, half (52%) reported becoming unconscious, 53% reported vomiting, 58% reported profuse sweating, and 8% reported having a fit or seizure. The high rate of problems reported by a group with limited use of this drug suggests that in a context of polydrug use, GHB use is associated with significant risks to users.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs* / adverse effects
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Sodium Oxybate* / adverse effects
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Victoria / epidemiology


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Sodium Oxybate