Ghb, A Date Rape Drug? Essay, Research Paper
ape and sexual assault are becoming more of a problem in American society every year. Most of these rape cases involve the use of substances to impair reason, making an easier victim. The availability of these drugs has increased its popularity and therefore directly has increased the number of incidents.
With the advancement of science, synthetically produced drugs are replacing alcohol, which has for centuries been the dominant date rape drug. One of those substances is gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). GHB was first synthesized thirty years ago by Dr. H. Laborit, a French researcher who was studying psychoactive substances in the brain. Laborit concluded that GHB, is found naturally in every cell in the human body and is most properly considered a nutrient. (Gallimberti n:p). GHB has since been used all over the world as a general anesthetic, a treatment for insomnia, narcolepsy (a daytime sleeping disorder), an aid to childbirth (increasing strength of contractions, decreasing pain, and increasing dilation of the cervix), a treatment for alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and for many other purposes (Morgenthaler and Joy 5). Despite GHB s many contributions medically, the substance was outlawed in the United States because of its date rape status.
Before one can understand the reasons that gamma-hydroxybutyrate was outlawed, it is mandatory to know the effects it has on the body. The effects of GHB vary from person to person to person but it is consistent that it causes muscle relaxation, reduction of social inhibitions, pro-sexual feelings decreased motor skills, and mood lift at lower doses (Erowid 2). At higher doses the effects are more diversity depending on how much alcohol or food was consumed (Drug Free America 1). Some side effects that can occur, but usually do not, include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and sometimes vomiting(Morgenthaler 7). These things only happen when dosage is higher than recommended.
There are many uses for GHB in medical practices. Gamma-hydroxybutyrate is useful in childbirth and is used frequently in Europe for just that purpose. Because GHB causes muscle relaxation it is very beneficial in aiding mothers in labor. When used it, increases the intensity of contractions, allowing for a shorter child birth duration (Vickers n:p). Also the substance also is beneficial to the fetus. The fetus is able to [preserve] reflexes [and prevent] respiratory depression (Laborite n:p). Respiration and reflexes of the fetus are usually the first thing that effect fetuses that are administered drugs. Another important action of GHB during child birth is the ability to prevent some cases of, fetal cardiac anoxia, or the umbilical cord wrapping around the neck (Laborit n:p). When used efficiently as well as monitored efficiently gamma-hydroxybutyrate is an asset to medicine.
It is important to know the concerns behind gamma-hydroxybutyrate as well. As with most substances, unpleasant and possibly dangerous side effects can be associated with excessive doses of GHB. A dose about twice the amount required for relaxation usually about a gram can induce a heavy irresponsible sleep. This is similar to a coma but the person is usually revived in about an hour(Lycaeum 1). When mixed with alcohol the effects of GHB triple, breathing becomes harder and the heart rate decreases ( GHB 2).
During the 1980s, GHB was widely available over-the-counter in health-food stores, purchased largely by body-builders for its ability to stimulate growth hormone release which aids in fat reduction and muscle building. The exact method by which it stimulates the growth hormone release is unknown; however, it is known that GHB has been known to inhibit the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that affects the brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Increased dopamine activity is known, in fact, to release the growth hormone (Lycaeum 2).The absence of negative side effects, when used properly, increased its popularity.
As GHB became more popular in the body building world, its success was repeated in night clubs. There, drugs commonly known as roofies were making an appearance, as well . These drugs were used in sexual assaults and were commonly slipped into drinks. Roofies however, are trace able in blood for up to four days and were soon tainted by a blue indicator dye that announced its presents. In contrast, GHB has no taste nor color neither in the liquid or solid form. This makes it undetectable in drinks. GHB can not be traced in the blood stream nor in the urine after 12 hours (Vickers 75).
The fact that it induces a pleasant state of relaxation, tranquility, emotional wealth, wellbeing, placidity, sensuality and mild euphoria is the reason why it replaced stronger drugs such as roofies (Fadda n:p). Reaction time of GHB is also faster than that of other typical date rape drugs. Effects can, usually, be felt within five to twenty minutes after ingestion but varies depending on the dosage (Lycaeum 1).
As with most drugs, the problem with GHB, began when it was mixed with alcohol and other drugs. The effects of alcohol, increase the effects of GHB. As a depressant, GHB, slows the rate of the heart and also causes respiratory depression. When combined with alcohol, GHB induces fatally decreases the heart beat and causes slow uneven breathing. With slowed heart rate as well as breathing, seizures can occur. Seizures are muscle spasms experienced all over the body and can be caused by numerous things, including lack of oxygen to the brain. Seizures are potentially dangerous because the spasms are draining on the body. After experiencing a seizure the body is almost completely shut down because of lack of energy. The main concern with dealing with GHB is ignorance , says scientist and West Point graduate, Ward Dean (Student 2). Dr. Ward Dean is one of the most public advocates of GHB. Dean states in his book GHB: The Natural Mood Enhancer , Ignorance of chemical reactions and there effect on the body is the main reason GHB is abused (Dean n:p).
For the First 30 GHB was used, there was not a single record of death. Compared to the 100,000 people killed every year to alcohol, or the 400,000 that die every year from tobacco this is surprisingly low (Defense 1). Although the deaths attributed to GHB have increased, it is important to know that during the time that GHB was first banned there were no related deaths. Most deaths associated with GHB at that time, were reactions with alcohol, or were due to people consuming unmeasured doses (Kleimenova n:p). The fame that came with the banning of GHB can be attributed to the many deaths that have occurred. The availability of GHB on the black market is very high. There are numerous amounts of kits that can be purchased as well as recipes (see figure 1). But GHB can omit highly toxic chemicals if synthesized wrong (GHB 4). So in essence it is not GHB that is to blame for the deaths but rather the irresponsibility of the government for simply not regulating the substance efficiently.
Despite it s black market status in the United States, GHB use is growing. The availability over the internet is also growing but also is the ill-informed users. The lack of knowledge olf the substance and its effects have made GHB and abused drug. It would have been preferable, as well as beneficial for the Food and Drug Administration to restrict GHB rather than make it illegal. By making it illegal, the FDA has increased the chances of death due to irregular doses as well as varied potency. The effects of GHB are minimal if regulated correctly.