The involvement of gamma-hydroxybutyrate in reported sexual assaults: a systematic review

J Psychopharmacol. 2010 Sep;24(9):1281-7. doi: 10.1177/0269881110363315. Epub 2010 May 20.


Over the past few years gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) has generated widespread media interest as a possible 'date rape drug'. Our goal was to examine the extent to which GHB is associated with drug-facilitated sexual assaults. Literature was searched systematically and 11 studies, published between 1961 and June 30, 2009, were identified dealing specifically with the role of GHB in sexual assaults. GHB was detected in 0.2-4.4% of reported sexual assaults. The results demonstrate that a wide range of drugs may be present in cases of sexual assault, and many of them are much more frequent than GHB. Our results do not support the widespread labelling of GHB as a date rape drug as the prevalence of GHB is much lower than of other substances used in sexual assaults. On the other hand, however, the possible risk of GHB in this regard should not be neglected. Nevertheless, over-sensitive and sensation seeking media reports focusing on the association of sex crime and GHB might be counterproductive and misleading as they turn the attention away from other substances that are often used in sexual assaults.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sodium Oxybate*
  • Tranquilizing Agents*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Tranquilizing Agents
  • Sodium Oxybate