How Does GHB Addiction Treatment Work?
GHB, or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (C4H8O3), is a Central Nervous System Depressant naturally produced in small amounts by the brain. GHB is traceable in certain meats, beer, and wine; the average liter of wine contains between 4 and 21 mg of GHB. Commonly used as a “party drug,” confiscated illicit GHB holds between 500 to 3,000 mg of GHB (a drastic difference when compared to the trace amounts naturally occurring in wine).
The drug, popularly known as “Georgia Homeboy,” is found in liquid, tablet, powder, and capsule forms. But what makes GHB so renowned is its odorless, tasteless, and colorless appearance, rendering it undetectable to victims of “date rape.” GHB can cause serious addiction issues, which may require professional treatment.
Some symptoms of GHB abuse include:
- Difficulty thinking
- Slurred speech
- Increased sex drive
Though the effects of GHB vary, when used regularly it is known to be highly addictive and to cause severe consequences for the user.
Featured Centers Offering Treatment For GHB Addiction
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Types Of GHB Addiction Treatment
Acknowledging the need for help is one of the most significant leaps a person can make towards recovery. By finding treatment for GHB addiction, a recovering user can gain back control of their life.
There are many forms of treatment available, but the first milestone towards a successful GHB recovery is detoxification. If the person is an intense user, they may experience overwhelming withdrawal symptoms during detox. But even in severe cases of GHB withdrawal, one of the best ways to cleanse the body, prevent discomfort, and avoid complications is through a well-managed medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
GHB Addiction Medication
During a medication-assisted treatment, a recovering user may be prescribed medications to assist them with relief from physical and emotional withdrawal discomforts like tremors, cravings, and anxiety.
Medicine commonly used to relieve GHB withdrawal symptoms include:
Benzodiazepines are used to reduce acute anxiety or panic, as well as longer-term anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines are also quite addictive, but are helpful for detox if titrated down.
Anticonvulsants are used to suppress hyperactivity in the brain, prevent seizures, and to calm the patient.
Antihypertensive medications are used to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack.
Antidepressants help in the restoration of serotonin in the brain and assists with depression and anxiety.
Though there are no proven treatment medications for GHB addiction, a combination of the prescriptions listed above, coupled with other forms of therapy such as counseling and aftercare support, can dramatically increase a patient’s success rate. The intensity of GHB withdrawal symptoms can vary by the day. The best way to ensure a safe recovery with MAT is through professional supervision in an inpatient treatment facility.
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Inpatient Rehabilitation For GHB Addiction
When going through a medically assisted treatment, a healthcare professional’s supervision is necessary to avoid any possible lethal complications. The safest way of ensuring a successful completion of MAT is by opting in for inpatient rehabilitation. There are many versions of inpatient rehab, but they all involve patients living in a residential facility.
A typical inpatient facility can offer its guests the benefits of:
- Structure and a sober environment.
- Individualized medical care and time to heal.
- Space to break the cycle of addiction and a positive community.
- Professional guidance and support and a reduced chance of relapse.
Inpatient facilities provide recovering users with the means to break away from triggers, enablers, and daily stresses. These facilities were designed to allow their guests to recover from addictions in a safe space.
Though recovery time varies and depends on every individual’s unique needs, inpatient treatment for GHB rehabilitation ranges from 30 to 60 days. In some cases where extra care is needed, treatment can last up to a year or longer.
If a person has attempted sobriety before and failed or has tried several other therapies to recover from GHB addiction unsuccessfully, inpatient care may be their best choice. This form of treatment offers the most thorough and constant immersion into recovery, providing patients a real chance at success.
Outpatient Rehabilitation For GHB Addiction
If committing to inpatient rehabilitation is not an option, outpatient rehabilitation is an excellent part-time option. Outpatient rehab programs offer the choice of recovering while maintaining an ongoing work or school schedule. This option may be great for people with a busy schedule and mild-to-moderate drug withdrawal symptoms.
Compared to an inpatient program, outpatient facilities are less intensive. The more intensive outpatient programs include day or evening partial programs and day or evening Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP). The time that someone spends in an intensive outpatient program may be 2 to 4 hours per day for 3 to 4 days a week. A partial hospitalization program may require 4 to 6 hours per day for 3 to 5 days per week. They offer a lot of treatment without residing there. The program can last 3 to 6 months or over a year depending on an individual’s needs. Meetings are usually conducted early in the morning or at night to help patients maintain their regular schedule.
A typical outpatient schedule can include:
- Drug abuse education
- Relapse prevention education
- Group counseling
- Individual counseling
- Lectures addressing the tenets of recovery
Outpatient sessions focus on helping recovering users adapt, learn, and cope with their new life without the drug.
During detox, outpatients must have periodic mental and physical check-ups by visiting clinicians at a certified medical facility, like a hospital or treatment center. During their visit the medical specialist can assist the patient with acute withdrawal symptoms by prescribing them medications to help alleviate their discomfort.
Common Questions About Rehab
Therapies For GHB Addiction Treatment
Once an individual begins to recover from the physical and emotional withdrawal from GHB, other forms of therapy can begin. Often there are plenty of therapeutic options for addiction treatment offered at inpatient facilities. Below are a few of the most popular and currently used therapies:
The majority of these therapies help past users learn how to adapt and cope with life’s external pressures. By participating in their recovery and learning new healthy coping mechanisms, individuals can change their behavior for the better.
Continuing GHB Addiction Treatment
Recovering from GHB abuse is an ongoing journey that continues after rehab. Once a patient leaves a facility, it is up to them with the help of their aftercare group to avoid the old patterns that led them to addiction.
Individuals can significantly benefit from long term programs outside of rehabilitation like Narcotics and Cocaine Anonymous or GHB recovery support groups. Recovering users must find the support they need to continue succeeding in their sobriety, by developing or strengthening their support networks. Having the assistance of a group or community is encouraging and healing as it offers a sense of belonging and acknowledgment so addicts can learn to prosper in a new life free of GHB.
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Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer at Recovery Worldwide LLC. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.
- More from Suzette Gomez
- SAMHSA. (2020). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved on August 26, 2020 from: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
- Pre-Review of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB) (2006). Retrieved on August 26, 2020 from: https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/quality_safety/5GHBPreReview.pdf?ua=1
- National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2020). Club Drugs. Retrieved on August 26, 2020. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/club-drugs
Certified Addiction Professional
Deborah Montross Nagel
Deborah has a Master’s Degree from Lesley University and has been certified as an Addictions Counselor in PA since 1986. She is currently a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor – CAADC. She is nationally certified as a MAC – Master Addictions Counselor – by NAADAC (The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors). Her 37 years of experience and education are in addiction, recovery, and codependency. Addiction affects the entire system around the addict. There is no "bad guy" in the system. Fight the addiction, and help the addict. I help loved ones restore sanity to their lives and hence encourage change. Recovery is possible!
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