GBL and GHB are also known as G or Gina.
GBL (gamma butyrolactone) and GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) are chems used during sex, often in chillouts, sex parties or when clubbing. They’re depressant drugs (‘downers’), which means they have a sedative and euphoric effect, similar to being drunk.
Both types of G can be used legitimately as industrial solvent and paint stripper-type chemicals.
When the UK law on the illicit use of GHB tightened, GBL largely took over from it on the scene as it’s more readily available as an industrial cleaner.
How it’s used
GBL is the most common form of G now and is a clear liquid that has a strong chemical smell and taste.
GHB is a clear, salty liquid with no smell. Sometimes it comes as a powder that’s added to a drink. Both are usually mixed with a soft drink, but never alcohol.
Because GBL turns into GHB inside the body, the effects of GBL can be stronger or more unpredictable.
The strength of G varies a lot so it’s hard to know what a safe dose is.
Highs and lows of G
With G the high comes after about 20 minutes, lasting about one hour. But it may last up to four hours.
A dose of G can make you feel chilled out, horny or mildly high. It’s often used with other chems like mephedrone or crystal meth.
Too much G leaves you dizzy, confused, drowsy or vomiting – which could cause death from choking if G has knocked you out. The worst case scenarios with G are seizures, coma and death. G usage is thought to be linked to a number of deaths which have taken place in saunas in recent years.
Overdoses tend to happen when:
- People take a second dose before the first kicks in – always give it two hours before second dosing.
- The G is stronger than expected.
- They’ve been drinking alcohol.
The strength of G varies a lot, so it’s hard to know what a safe dose is. A little ‘Gina’ goes a long way, with a typical dose varying from 0.5ml to 1.5ml.
There’s not much difference (less then a millilitre) between the dose that gets you high and one that has you hitting the floor. Overdosing is easy to do and comes on with little warning.
Doses need to be precise, so they’re often measured with a syringe with the needle removed. An additional danger comes when someone takes a dose and thinks nothing’s happening, so they take more.
Waiting at least two hours before taking a second dose makes overdosing less likely. Taking another shot of G within an hour makes overdosing likely as your body hasn’t processed the first shot yet.
Sex on G
The drug has a reputation for making people horny. Its relaxing effect can be used to help take things up the arse.
Less welcome is that it can make it harder to come or lower your inhibitions, making unsafe sex more likely – and with it passing on infections such as HIV, syphilis or hep C. If you’re a bit out of it – or totally dead to the world – it’ll be hard to control what’s happening or even remember what had happened when (or if) you come round. Guys have reported being sexually assaulted or raped while unconscious on G.
A long term relationship?
Regular users often build up a tolerance to G, needing more to get the same buzz.
It’s possible to become physically dependent on G with regular usage. The best way to avoid developing tolerance and dependence is not to take G for more than 2 days in a row.
Withdrawal from G, if you’re addicted, can be very dangerous without medical support — so don’t try it on your own. Go to an A&E or a specialist drug service.
G with other drugs
It’s very risky to mix G with other depressant drugs (downers) such as alcohol and tranquilisers – but also ketamine or antihistamines (used in allergy medicines). Their combined action can dangerously slow down your breathing or cause a long ‘G sleep’.
Also known as ‘going under‘, G sleep isn’t sleep at all but a state of unconsciousness. A fit, coma or death can possibly follow. Even drinking booze a few hours earlier can leave enough of it in your system to risk a collapse.
G can also interact with HIV meds, causing dangerously high levels of GHB and a bigger risk of collapsing.
Useful to know
If someone’s getting drowsy from GHB/GBL, don’t let them fall into G sleep – they’re not ‘sleeping’, they’re unconscious and may not wake up. Try to keep them awake and moving until the effects wear off or medical help arrives.
If G knocks someone out, to stop them choking on their own vomit they should be laid on their side, in the recovery position, not on their back.
If someone isn’t feeling well or can’t be woken up, get medical help straight away. There’s always a risk of sudden death if someone’s unconscious. You’ll be in a lot more trouble if you don’t get help and then have a dead body on your hands.
If you’re not going to get medical help put the person in the recovery position, sit with them and regularly monitor their pulse and breathing.
G should definitely be avoided if you have:
- high or low blood pressure
- heart or breathing problems.
G and the law
GHB and GBL are Class C drugs with punishable offenses of up to two years in prison for possession and up to 14 years for selling or supplying.
Using or intending to use GHB and GBL as date-rape drugs carries a penalty of 10 years in prison, through the 2003 Sexual Offences Act.
If you need help getting off G see our Getting help page for more information.
Frank has a service finder so you can find drug services in your area.
If you’re based in the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham or Westminster the Club Drug Clinic is available. They specialise in helping people who have problems with GBL, mephedrone, ketamine, MDMA and crystal meth.
Next review: 20/08/2021