GHB Addiction Signs & Symptoms

Understanding GHB Addiction

Learn About GHB Addiction

The term “date rape drugs” is an informal name given to a group of substances that are often used surreptitiously to incapacitate potential victims prior to a sexual assault.

In general, date rape drugs impair or disable your ability to exercise good judgment, give consent, and defend or protect yourself. Some date rape drugs also block your ability to remember what you experienced while under the influence of the substance.

Given these criteria, a wide range of substances can be included within the broad category of date rape drugs. Alcohol and virtually all other recreational drugs can, under certain circumstances, create effects similar to those listed in the previous paragraph.

However, most discussions of date rape drugs focus on substances that not only elicit these effects, but that also can be easily administered without the knowledge of the victim.

Two of the drugs that are most commonly identified as date rape drugs are Rohypnol and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). Rohypnol usually appears as a pill or tablet that can be dissolved in a liquid. GHB may appear as an odorless and colorless liquid, or as a white pill or powder. Both of these drugs can be easily added to a person’s drink without his or her knowledge.

Of course, not all people who use Rohypnol, GHB, or other date rape drugs are sexual predators. These substances are often used recreationally (and intentionally) for their ability to elicit a sense of sedate euphoria while also elevating mood, diminishing inhibitions, and increasing sexual desire.

Continued use of GHB, Rohypnol, or other date rape drugs can expose a person to a wide range of negative outcomes, including the development of an addiction.


GHB Addiction Statistics

A 2005 study by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates that more than one-third of women who reported being sexually assaulted had been victims of a drug-facilitated sexual assault. The DOJ researchers estimated that about 4.9 percent of these women had ingested GHB, Rohypnol, or another date rape drug prior to the assault.

In 2015, a survey of recent college graduates that was conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that 9 percent of women said they had been drugged immediately prior to unwanted sexual conduct.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for GHB Addiction

A person’s risk for becoming addicted to Rohypnol, GHB, or any other date rape drug may be influenced by a variety of factors, including the following:

Genetic: If you have a parent or sibling who has struggled with substance abuse and addiction, then you may be at increased risk for a similar problem. As genetic research has progressed in recent years, experts have identified a variety of genes and gene clusters that appear to be associated with heightened likelihood of addiction.

Environmental: Experiencing abuse, neglect, or other forms of trauma at a young age can raise your risk of abusing addictive substances later in life. Being exposed to substance abuse at a young age; having easy access to GHB, Rohypnol, or other date rape drugs; and/or associating with peers who abuse these drugs can also increase the likelihood that you will have a problem with these substances.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Personal history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Easy access to GHB, Rohypnol, or other date rape drugs
  • Novelty-seeking or impulsivity

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of GHB Addiction

A person who experiences symptoms such as the following may be under the influence of Rohypnol, GHB, or another date rape drug:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Clumsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Increased sociability
  • Emotional openness

Physical symptoms:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Slow heart rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Sense of heightened euphoria
  • Confusion and/or disorientation
  • Impaired memory
  • Blackouts and amnesia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Diminished inhibitions
  • Heightened sexual arousal
  • Extreme relaxation


Effects of GHB Addiction

The continued untreated abuse of Rohypnol, GHB, or another date rape drug can expose a person to considerable harm, both immediate and long-term. The potential negative effects of date rape drug abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Memory problems
  • Physical injuries related to trips, falls, and other accidents
  • Heart problems
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Legal problems, including possible arrest and incarceration
  • Strained or ruined interpersonal relationships
  • Academic failure
  • Substandard occupational performance
  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Financial devastation
  • Social withdrawal and isolation

The good news is that when you choose to get professional help for a problem with Rohypnol, GHB, or another date rape drug, you can heal from past harm while avoiding future damage.

Co-Occurring Disorders

GHB Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

If you have become dependent upon GHB, Rohypnol, or another date rape drug, you may also be at increased risk for the following co-occurring disorders:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Other substance use disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Know the Effects of GHB Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of Date Rape Drug Withdrawal: Once your body has adapted to the continued presence of Rohypnol, GHB, or another date rape drug, trying to cease or significantly reduce your use of these drugs can trigger the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Powerful cravings for the drug you have been using
  • Nausea, vomiting, and other flu-like symptoms
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Psychosis
  • Delirium

Effects of Date Rape Drug Overdose: Overdose occurs when a person ingests a GHB, Rohypnol, or another date rape drug in an amount that exceeds his or her body’s ability to safely metabolize the substance. Anyone who exhibits the following symptoms after using a date rape drug may be in grave danger, and should be brought to the immediate attention of an emergency first responder or other qualified healthcare provider:

  • Significantly slowed heart rate
  • Slow, shallow, or otherwise diminished breathing
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Profound confusion and disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions