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GHB stands for gamma-hydroxybutyrate, which is a depressant. Although it is sometimes called liquid ecstasy it is not chemically related to ecstasy, which is a stimulant. GHB is a naturally occurring substance found in the body.
It was first synthesised in the 1960s and developed as an anaesthetic, and has been used as a treatment for a number of medical conditions, including insomnia, depression, narcolepsy and alcoholism.
It has also been used by bodybuilders and athletes in the belief that it raises growth hormone levels; however, there is no evidence that this is the case. More recently, it has been associated with the nightclub and rave scenes.
GHB usually comes as a liquid, and is sold in vials, bottles or fish-shaped soy sauce containers. It is colourless, but may have colour added to stop it being mistaken for water or other clear liquids. It is odourless, and can have either a bitter or a salty taste.
Less often, GHB is found in the form of a white powder.
Use the following websites to find information about specific drugs, including their long and short term effects, how they are used, legal status and information on mixing drugs.
Journal articles are a good source of explanations and discussions of drug and alcohol issues. There are several eresources with links to journal articles available in the State Library.