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GBL Abuse

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GBL is short for gamma-butyrolactone. This drug is intended to treat narcolepsy, but it is highly dangerous when it is misused. GBL can impair judgment, cause sedation, lead to overdose, and has even been used as a “date rape” drug. This substance is also a common solvent found in nail polish removers, board cleaners, and chemical paint strippers.

Woman with glass of liquor

GBL is very similar to another toxic drug known as GHB—which is gamma-hydroxybutyric acid — a dangerous and potentially lethal drug that has been at the root of many deaths among those who consume it while drinking alcohol. GHB prevents the body from processing alcohol efficiently, and therefore leads to toxic and deadly results when combined with alcohol and many other substances. Both GBL and GHB can lead to dependence and addiction1

GBL and GHB are often misused interchangeably. These substances are similar in name, and share many of the same characteristics. Therefore, many GBL addicts are referred to as GHB addicts. While the two are not the same, the end results and their addictive properties are.1

Known by many names, such as “blue nitro,” “thunder,” “Gamma G” and “liquid gold,” GBL is indeed more potent than its counterpart. It only takes one milliliter of GBL to deliver the efficacy of 1.6 grams of GHB.1

Who Uses GBL?

GBL has become popular in the club scene. An American Journal of Public Health study of 295 regular circuit partygoers in the San Francisco Bay region showed almost all of the participants used club drugs at the parties, with one-fourth reporting use of GBL or GHB.2

Athletes who desire to gain weight are also fans of the drug. The FDA actually issued a warning for products containing GBL in 1999, but it is still widely available in the fitness market.3

Unfortunately, GBL is also gaining popularity among sexual predators as a replacement for drugs like Rohypnol (“roofies”). GBL is also becoming increasingly popular among young people, likely due to the ease of access to the drug in store brand products.

Are You at Risk for GBL Dependence?

Addiction can strike anyone, anywhere. It does not discriminate. However, people who grew up in homes with substance use present (or who had parents who struggled with addiction) eight times more likely to suffer from addiction themselves.4

Both genetics and environment play major roles in the formation of addiction. Trauma, life experience, peer groups, and social norms all impact the influence of substance use. If the people, places, and things in your life facilitate a substance problem, you are probably at a higher risk.

Another group that is consistently impacted by addiction includes those battling mental illness. Over 53% of all people who struggle with drug addiction also suffer from a mental illness. Illnesses like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are commonly diagnosed in people who struggle with substance use.

How Is It Used?

GBL is usually ingested orally in liquid form, either in one instance or over a period of time, depending on the dosage. Users describe the taste as faint, but similar to burnt plastic or stagnant water. The effects from GBL can last anywhere from two to four hours and can be followed by withdrawal in regular users.

Turning Your Life Around

Without treatment, GBL use will continue to grow and eventually open the door to other substances, if it hasn’t already. People avoid treatment for a number of reasons, whether it is denial, fear of change, or fear of withdrawal. These issues pale in comparison to the way GBL dependence can destroy families, careers, and dreams.

Residential detox is recommended once a person becomes dependent on GBL. Detox from GBL can take as few as five or as many as 10 days to complete. Sudden cold-turkey detox methods are not recommended and should never be entered into without medical supervision.6

Treatment for GBL use and other substance addictions will save your life. You don’t have to fight this battle on your own. With our help, you can successfully turn your life around, and it starts today. Give us a call at 760.548.4032.


1 World Health Organization. Gamma-butyrolactone. 2014.

2 Mansergh, G., et. al. The Circuit Party Men's Health Survey. American Journal of Public Health. Jun 2001.

3 National Drug Intelligence Center. Drug Threat Assessment. Jul 2002.

4 Lowenfels, A., Miller, T. Alcohol and Trauma. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 1984.

5 National Alliance on Mental Illness. Dual Diagnosis. Aug 2017.

6 Bell, J., Collins, R. Gamma‐butyrolactone (GBL) dependence and withdrawal. Addiction. 6 Oct 2010.