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.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Irealnd Ltd.