Recreational Use of the “Date Rape Drug” GHB

GHB Date Rape Drug
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GHB—known as a “date rape drug”—has sported a negative image for several years. But gamma hydroxybutyric acid (prescribed as Xyrem) really started as a party drug similar to MDMA in the early 1990s. How did GHB go from a commonly used party drug to becoming a tool for sexual attackers? And why do some groups, especially gay men, use “G” recreationally despite potential risks?

G + Nightlife

Although medical settings have used GHB as a general anaesthetic, and even as a treatment for alcoholism, it quickly became a club drug two decades ago. This is because GHB can act as a euphoriant and even an aphrodisiac in small doses.

As a matter of fact, certain queer subcultures did and still do favour GHB. The gay nightlife appreciates GHB. Unfortunately, GHB’s more noticeably known adverse effects include confusion, blurred vision, and worst of all, loss of consciousness.

Because of its colorless and odorless form, GHB became a “perfect recipe” for sexual predators. By the late 1990s, GHB gained its infamous reputation as a date rape drug. How do certain groups of people still find pleasure from a drug that has notoriously been used by rapists?

Buzzfeed published an article in which many men spoke of entering the gay scene. In particular, they found in the chemsex scene a drug that dispensed with barriers between people. It helped them discard their awkwardness, shyness, or low self-esteem.

In the article, a man explained how “G”—the street name for GHB—helped him feel comfortable with himself after being in the closet until age 38. He said:

“It makes you feel attractive, confident, uninhibited, and enhances sex beyond what any human should experience. Thus, it is extremely active, tragic, and deadly in the gay community.”

Sex and GHB

One reason for the drug’s continued popluarity within gay communities is its reputation for making people horny. Hence, GHB’s frequent use in the chemsex scene, a gay-men dominated space where people consume drugs to facilitate or enhance sexual activity.

In an article published by Vice, a woman reports on the fact that following an increase of chemsex parties in London, many foreigners have come to the British capital to “sleep with lots of men, live to the max, take lots of drugs, and enjoy the freedom of being gay in London.”

Research using a qualitative analysis of GHB use among gay men, with reasons for use despite possible negative outcomes, reveals that a group of men in New York City identifies GHB as their most frequently used club drug.

The study shows that certain participants use GHB because they consider it “less of a commitment” compared to other drugs, such as MDMA. Participants feel the drug allows people to dose for customized durations. This gives them more control over the length of time they want to feel the effects. By contrast. MDMA has a half-life of roughly eight hours.

According to Trade Sexual Health, G’s high comes on after about 20 minutes and lasts about one hour, but may last up to four hours. Additionally, a dose of G can make you feel chilled out, horny, or mildly high. Moreover, people often use GHB to boost the effect of other drugs like Ecstasy (MDMA).

One participant in the study explains, “[I]ts effect is very predictable and you know that in a half an hour, 45 minutes [or] an hour, you’re gonna be back to normal.”

Personal Experiences

Here at RS we talked to some GHB users to get their personal experiences with GHB, Here is one’s recounting of the ups and downs of the drug:

“This was 25 years or so ago. About half the time I used GHB, it was along with Ecstasy and occasionally Ketamine as well. GHB gave me a warm flush type of feeling and to be quite honest, I loved having sex on it!

Everything just felt emphasized and incredible! Of course, that’s because it causes your body to release insane amounts of serotonin, dopamine, or whichever.

Normally these types of nights started off at a nightclub, like a rave or some kind of party like that. There was lots of dancing and everyone fed off of everyone else’s energy. The downside was that when we were done partying, we felt wiped out for a couple of days sometimes.

I knew several people who were addicted to it and seeing them on it after a while wasn’t fun. They would literally be slobbering on themselves and for the most part, incoherent.”

An Australian woman explained:

“Here, in Australia, it seems to be very common, for various reasons. Either to party, to make you more social if you are anxious, for insomnia and a few other reasons I guess as well. So really not everyone takes it as a party drug.

A lot of couples as well together for intimate purposes. I definitely wouldn’t recommend that unless it is a long time trusted partner. It is sort of taboo to take though. I don’t think many people would be open to admitting that they take it as it does seem to have a very bad name.”

Closing Thoughts

One man revealed to us that he personally didn’t consider GHB to be a date rape drug, nor a party drug comparable to MDMA. He would rather take GHB in someone’s home in combination with speed, simply due to its being a cheap and legal alternative. Common advice GHB users give includes the safety precaution of taking a small dose with a trusted group of friends.

Disclaimer: GHB is potentially categorized as an illegal drug. Reality Sandwich is not encouraging the use or growth of this drug where it is prohibited. However, we believe that providing information is imperative for the safety of those who choose to explore this substance. This guide is intended to give educational content and should in no way be viewed as medical recommendations.

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