(gamma butyrolactone, geeb)
Updated 2nd May 2012
GBL (gamma butyrolactone, 'geeb') is a clear liquid solvent. It is a prodrug for the illegal substance GHB, which means that the body naturally converts it into GHB.
It is sold in the grey market, often as 'alloy cleaner' or 'rust remover' and smells pretty much like you'd expect an industrial solvent to smell like. It is hard to store, requiring a glass bottle or bottle of a certain type of plastic. It will melt through most plastics. Yum!
As of December 2009, GBL has been classified as a Class C drug, carrying maximum jail terms of two years for possession and 14 years for supply.
Generally GBL is sold in bottles of multiples of 125ml. This is not a dose. You measure out the doses using the pipette that will almost certainly be provided by the salesman.
There is no hard and fast rule about dosage, and tolerances vary. For this reason always make sure you're in the company of a 'straight' friend in case things go wrong. Don't take it on your own and make sure you're in a safe environment. Don't do it at work or anywhere where you might be put at danger.
Some users find that 0.5ml is enough, while others might take 2-3 times that amount for an effect. If you intend to try this substance, ALWAYS start small, say 0.3, and see what works for you. Don't drink alcohol.
There is a very good reason for starting small, which we will come to soon. Do not drink it neat straight from the pipette. If it'll clean alloys, it'll not be nice to your teeth, gums, tongue and throat. Most people prefer to mix it with fruit juice in a shot glass.
Even then you might be shocked by the unpleasant taste. Don't worry about your stomach, that has far more powerful acids in it than geeb. Dosage should not under any circumstances be repeated less than (at least) hourly. If it didn't work, then don't have another for an hour and a half. Experienced users, especially those with increased tolerances, tend to leave two hours.
Journalists have long been calling GHB liquid ecstasy. This is incorrect - the effects are similar, but different: warm fuzzy feeling, chattiness, increased energy, ability to stay awake longer, overwhelming horniness, emotional intensity.
It is not for nothing that GBL took off in the sex clubs and spread to more mainstream users from there. It's been described as 'a lovely mellow buzz that leaves you functional and normal, but completely at ease with the world'.
Some users have suffered paranoid episodes and respiratory failure, and in some cases have died from small doses.
GBL has been linked to date rape - so much so that Cosmopolitan Magazine has launched a petition - supported by the Roofie Foundation - to have the drug made illegal.
For more information, please read our date rape drug section.
One of the major problems associated with GBL is the famous 'geeb coma', a temporary unwakeable sleep. It is for this reason that in many countries GHB is legal for use as a cure for insomnia (how paradoxical that it has also been used to treat narcolepsy and help people stay awake).
There is much fuss made about this coma, and rightly so. GBL is a system suppressant, and some of the few associated fatalities have combined it with alcohol, passed out, and choked on their own vomit. In a club it is very difficult to measure out a safe dose, and even so-called safe doses sometimes catch regular users out.
Someone who is cheerfully dancing one minute can find themselves in a near-coma in an ambulance the next. The problem has got so bad that some clubs will confiscate unsealed poppers bottles and make people prove eye-drops are eye-drops by, well, using them as such - and you do not want to get geeb in your eye. Plenty of people have ended up in hospital courtesy of worried friends and family.
Over 90% of GBL related hospital admissions have resulted in the person in question being released within a few hours, because you bounce and wake with little recollection of what happened. Of course, should you or a friend accidentally go too far, it might be a good idea to have an agreement on what to do.
Anecdotally, almost everyone who uses GBL recreationally will occasionally overdose. OD levels vary, but it doesn't take much to knock you out, so always play safe and be extremely conservative with doses.
For even experienced users, just 3ml is normally an unconsciousness dosage. It cleans out of your system quickly, but is also cumulative. Hence the need to leave long gaps between doses. Use wisely, and be aware of one more downside to unpredictable substance.
GBL is addictive. Withdrawals are nasty, really nasty, and can require professional treatment.
One of the contributors to this article admitted an addiction to GBL. The thread on the urban75 bulletin boards contains information relating to the problems of withdrawal and seeking medical attention.
Editor's note: This is I drug I cannot recommend to anyone. The health risks are high, the danger of overdose all too obvious, and after seeing several close friends become horribly addicted to the stuff, I suggest people steer well clear of it.
Discuss GBL on our bulletin boards
Accountant dies after taking GBL at gathering for friend killed by the same party drug [BBC 12/09]
'Legal high' clubbing drugs banned in UK [BBC 12/09]
Girl ravaged by party drug GBL [Manchester Eve New 09/09]
'My gifted son died horrifically from GBL' [Scotland on Sunday 08/09]
GBL set to be banned [BBC 08/09]
Student died after taking unclassified drug [Independent 06/09]
GBL: 'Why haven't they banned it?' [Telegraph 06/09]
21 year old dies after taking GBL [BBC 04/09]
Release article on GBL
Government considers controls on club drug GBL (Pink News, Aug 07)
Clubs employ medics to fight new drug craze (Independent, Sept 04)
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