Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is an illicit drug commonly used in music festival, party and ‘chemsex’ settings. Most people who use GHB do so occasionally, without dependent use or withdrawal symptoms. However, a minority of users experience harms including unconsciousness and respiratory collapse in overdose. Adverse interactions can also occur when GHB is used with other drugs (eg methamphetamine), necessitating assessment, management or onward referral by general practitioners.
This article describes the use of GHB, with a contemporary update on principles of assessment and management in general practice, brief intervention and harm-minimisation strategies, and indicators for referral to a specialist in dependent use.
The assessment and management of individuals with GHB-related harms in general practice is supported by an awareness of the context of use, familiarity with targeted harm-minimisation advice and cognisance of markers of risk indicating onward referral to specialist addiction services when appropriate.