The prevalence and correlates of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) overdose among Australian users

Addiction. 2003 Feb;98(2):199-204. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2003.00265.x.


Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the correlates, context and risk perceptions regarding gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) overdose among a sample of recreational GHB users in Australia.

Design: A cross-sectional survey of 76 GHB users who were administered a structured interview on GHB use. They were asked a series of questions regarding whether they had ever experienced a GHB overdose, the context of their most recent GHB overdose, and about their perceptions of the risks of GHB overdose.

Findings: This sample of GHB users had not had a long or extensive experience with GHB use; despite this, half (53%) had experienced a GHB overdose. This sample of GHB users appeared to be well-educated, employed and a history of either drug treatment or incarceration was uncommon. There were no differences between those who had or had not overdosed in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, extent of other drug use or typical patterns of other drug use when using GHB. However, those who had overdosed on GHB had used it more times during their life-time, and had been using it for a longer period of time.

Conclusions: GHB-related overdoses were common among a sample of GHB users who had only recently begun using the drug. The only apparent distinguishing factor between those who had and had not overdosed on GHB was the amount of experience with GHB use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Intravenous / poisoning
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / poisoning*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Overdose / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sodium Oxybate / poisoning*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • Victoria / epidemiology


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Sodium Oxybate