The effect of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid on naloxone-precipitated opiate withdrawal

Neuropsychopharmacology. 1996 Mar;14(3):187-93. doi: 10.1016/0893-133X(95)00087-T.


Because gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), a GABA metabolite, attenuated spontaneous opiate withdrawal in a prior study, we studied GHB's effect on naloxone-precipitated opiate withdrawal. Eight opiate-dependent inpatients were stabilized on the opioid levorphanol, 18 mg daily. After an initial acclimatization challenge, subjects underwent three double-blind challenges on consecutive days. Pretreatment in a balanced randomization was with either placebo, GHB, 15 mg/kg, or GHB, 30 mg/kg, followed an hour later by intravenous naloxone, 0.4 mg/70 kg. GHB produced no significant attenuation of multiple withdrawal measures except for hot-cold feelings. GHB pretreatment slightly accelerated respiration prior to naloxone. Differences with prior studies may be due to (1) timing of GHB administration (giving postwithdrawal in prior studies), (2) direct reversal of GHB's anti-withdrawal effects by naloxone, or (3) differences between naloxone-precipitated and spontaneous opiate withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Naloxone / pharmacology*
  • Narcotics / adverse effects*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology*


  • Narcotics
  • Naloxone
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid