Behavioral effects of gamma-hydroxybutyrate in humans

Behav Pharmacol. 2010 Jul;21(4):332-42. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0b013e32833b3397.


Despite the therapeutic use and abuse potential of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB or Xyrem), relatively few studies have examined the behavioral effects of GHB in humans under controlled laboratory conditions. Thus, this eight-session study examined in 10 non-substance-abusing volunteers the behavioral effects of GHB at each of the following doses: 0, 0.32, 0.56, 0.75, 1.0, 1.8, 2.4, 3.2 g/70 kg, orally. Order of dose testing was random, except that the first two participants received active doses in ascending order and 2.4 g/70 kg was always tested before 3.2 g/70 kg. Before drug administration and at several postdrug time points, self-report, observer report, physiological, and psychomotor performance measures were obtained. Analyses based on area under the curve showed that GHB produced dose-related increases in subjective ratings of sedative-like, stimulant-like, positive mood, and dissociative effects, but no changes in psychomotor performance measures or blood pressure. Analyses based on peak effects generally showed dose-related increases in ratings indicating sedative-like, dissociative, and drug liking, although some measures showed U-shaped dose-related changes. These initial findings suggest that GHB at doses of 0.32-3.2 g/70 kg produces dissociative, sedating and some stimulant-like effects in humans without a history of sedative abuse.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Confusion / chemically induced
  • Confusion / psychology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Respiration / drug effects
  • Sodium Oxybate / pharmacology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Sodium Oxybate