GHB is short for gamma-Hydroxybutanoic acid, a naturally occurring substance that is produced to aid the function of the central nervous system. It can also be extracted from various food sources, however, and concentrated amounts of it are sold illegally for recreational use. It is a somewhat unique drug in that small doses will cause it to function as a stimulant, but large doses cause it to act as a potent depressant.
The science on GHB addiction is still unclear as this is a relatively new drug. However, withdrawal symptoms have been seen in some regular users of the drug. When experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it is important to get into a GHB drug detox program at a medical facility or a certified treatment center to prevent an addiction from progressing.
Take the steps needed to enter into recovery and start on the path to a healthy and sober life. Contact an inpatient rehab center to learn more about your options for treatment.
A standard detox for an addictive drug usually takes place over several days to a week. During this time, the patient resides at a medical facility or detox center. They are continually monitored by medical staff and provided with medication to treat any symptoms the drug has caused and to help them manage their cravings and withdrawal symptoms. They also get counseling during this time, and a mental health professional will evaluate them to see if there are any concurrent disorders contributing to the addiction.
If a physical dependency or an addiction has developed, it is virtually impossible to detox on your own. Withdrawal symptoms and cravings are usually too strong to manage alone, and can even prove fatal in severe cases of addiction. GHB addiction often brings on very severe symptoms that persist for a long time.
Detoxing at home also risks the inadvertent interference of family and loved ones. Unbeknownst to both the family and the addict, co-dependent relationships and behavior patterns can form that actually contribute to the addiction and enable it to continue. At a medical detox facility, the patient is in an environment totally free of distractions and can focus entirely on getting clean.
As mentioned, GHB is somewhat uncharted territory at this point as far as programs of treatment go. But in general, a strong addiction will require an initial residential detox period followed by a longer period of inpatient treatment in a less restrictive environment. If the addiction is milder or in the earlier stages of development, it may be possible to continue treatment on an outpatient basis after an initial detox is completed.
Withdrawal symptoms have been seen in regular users of GHB. They tend to occur more quickly than with other drugs, often beginning as little as an hour after use and quickly rising to a peak.
GHB withdrawal is particularly nasty as it shares some of the worst features of both alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal. Patients are likely to be in an altered state of mind and may be delirious and hallucinate. Some other common symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, tremors, disorientation, hypertension, nausea and vomiting.
As with the delirium tremens brought on by alcohol, psychological symptoms can persist for up to 14 days.
Given the strong symptoms of GHB withdrawal, residential treatment is a virtual necessity. A mandatory initial detox will get patients the full range of medications they need, and this will likely be followed by a more extended period of inpatient treatment. Only a certified treatment facility can provide the needed medications for short-term withdrawal treatment and the long-term counseling and life management strategies to avoid triggers and better cope with temptations.
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