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GHB Drug Test And How Long It Stays Body Systems

ghb in system

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GHB is a common substance of abuse, which means that anyone undergoing a standard drug test could be screened for it. A positive GHB drug test can cause numerous headaches, from loss of employment to reduced custody time with children. Here is what users should know about GHB detection through drug testing.

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Learn About GHB Drug Test:

How Long Does GHB Stay in One’s System?

The body rapidly processes gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), meaning it does not remain in the system for long. The GHB half-life typically falls somewhere between 40 and 60 minutes. Full clearance can occur in as little as 2.45 hours after consumption, assuming the user does not take more.

Peak plasma levels occur roughly 11 minutes after the dose is taken. It can reach undetectable levels in the blood in as little as six hours. Peak urine concentration occurs within 3 hours of taking GHB, reaching undetectable levels as early as 12 hours post-consumption. Saliva can also hold traces of the drug, starting 10 minutes after use and lasting roughly six hours.

ghb half-life

Factors That Impact GHB Half-Life

While there is a general window for gamma-hydroxybutyric half-life, this isn’t set in stone. Every user’s body will process gamma-hydroxybutyric slightly differently based on numerous factors, many of which the user has little to no control over. These include:

  • The dose taken: The more a person consumes, the longer it will take for their body to process it and remove it.
  • Use of other substances: Drinking alcohol, taking medications, and using drugs can tax the body’s elimination systems, forcing them to take longer to eliminate all substances, including gamma-hydroxybutyric.
  • The age of the user: The body processes tend to slow down with age. Those over the age of 65 are more likely to struggle with elimination, as gamma-hydroxybutyric stays in their system for longer.
  • The sex of the user: GHB is a hydrophilic drug, meaning it is held by water in the body. Biologically female individuals tend to have less water per kilogram of weight, which means they tend to eliminate gamma-hydroxybutyric faster than those who are biologically male.
  • The user’s overall health: Any aspect of a person’s health could slow their metabolism and make it harder for the body to clear GHB. However, conditions that impact the kidneys tend to have the largest impact on gamma-hydroxybutyric clearance.
  • General lifestyle choices: Exercising, hydration, and diet can alter the time GHB stays in the system. For example, being well hydrated gives the drug more water, making it easier for it to stick around longer.
  • The type of GHB taken: Someone who has a GHB prescription, and therefore takes a controlled dose of the medication, might experience slower clearance of the substance. Unlike with street versions, prescription gamma-hydroxybutyric breaks down more slowly in the body, meaning peak concentrations will be reached later.

Taken together, this means that a user should never believe they can accurately predict the half-life of the drug or know when it will fully clear their body.

GHB Metabolism

Another aspect that impacts GHB detection is the metabolism of the drug. In essence, this is how the body transforms gamma-hydroxybutyric into something usable by its systems.

The absorption of gamma-hydroxybutyric is rapid. Within minutes of the drug being taken, it is already being processed by the body and having an effect on the systems. As the body processes it, GHB is transformed into succinic acid. This is then metabolized into water and carbon dioxide. Metabolism of the drug takes place in the liver, yet it is metabolized via non-hepatic pathways.

Roughly 95 percent of the drug is eliminated from the body through expiration, meaning it is breathed out as carbon dioxide. Nearly all of the remaining 5 percent is eliminated through urine. The rest is excreted in negligible amounts through sweat and feces.

GHB Drug Test

GHB drug tests are rare. A standard drug screening for employment isn’t designed to pick up signs of the substance. This means that a specific GHB drug test is needed to tell if someone has ingested the substance.

How to test for GHB comes down to how recently it was taken. Because of its fast elimination, there is a very small window for most tests when it comes to GHB detection. The sooner a test can be administered, the better. There are four options for testing: blood, urine, saliva, and hair.

GHB Blood Tests

With a blood test, a lab technician will take a vial of blood from the user. If it is an at-home GHB testing kit, usually only a finger prick will be required. Gamma-hydroxybutyric remains detectible in the blood for roughly 8 hours.

ghb urine drug test

GHB Urine Tests

Urine tests are the most common way to look for gamma-hydroxybutyric. This is because they are both easier to administer than blood tests and can detect the presence of the drug for longer. The window for urine testing is 12-24 hours.

GHB Saliva Tests

The saliva test is rare, as it has the smallest detection window—just 6 hours. However, because it is the easiest to administer, it is still used in certain cases.

GHB Hair Test

Hair tests for gamma-hydroxybutyric are incredibly rare. The only documented cases have been to prove the use of GHB in a sexual assault. With that said, it offers the greatest testing window. It has been proven it can detect the drug up to one month after taking it, but most likely, it remains detectable in hair for many months longer.

It is important that anyone abusing the drug stops doing so, as there is a significant risk of overdose. While the user may experience Xyrem withdrawal, living a clean life is worth it.

Where To Seek For Help

If someone is worried about the positive results of the screening, it is a sign that they have a problem with the drug. Rehabilitation centers understand what drives addiction and how to help users get clean. By reaching out, anyone in need can find the right addiction treatment that ensures a long-standing recovery.

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Hope Without Commitment

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  1. Busardò FP, Jones AW. GHB pharmacology and toxicology: acute intoxication, concentrations in blood and urine in forensic cases and treatment of the withdrawal syndrome. Current Neuropharmacology. 2015; 13(1): 47‐70. doi:10.2174/1570159X13666141210215423.
  2. Haller C, Thai D, Jacob P 3rd, Dyer JE. GHB urine concentrations after single-dose administration in humans. Journal of analytical toxicology. 2006; 30(6): 360‐364. doi:10.1093/jat/30.6.360.
  3. Steuer AE, Raeber J, Steuer C et al. Identification of new urinary gamma-hydroxybutyric acid markers applying untargeted metabolomics analysis following placebo-controlled administration to humans. Drug Testing and Analysis. 2019; 11(6): 813-823. doi: 10.1002/dta.2558.
  4. Susa ST, Preuss CV. Drug Metabolism. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020.
  5. Xyrem® (sodium oxybate) oral solution. Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 2005.
  6. Kintz P, Cirimele V, Jamey C, Ludes B. Testing for GHB in hair by GC/MS/MS after a single exposure. Application to document sexual assault. Journal of Forensic Sciences. 2003; 48(1): 195-200.
Olivier George

About Author

Olivier George, Ph.D.

Olivier George is a medical writer and head manager of the rehab center in California. He spends a lot of time in collecting and analyzing the traditional approaches for substance abuse treatment and assessing their efficiency.


Leave a comment

  • Laila
    Hello I m new in the us . My husband is a doctor i just came its been one month and half . Ive been having a hard time with my husband and we got separated but sleeeping in the same bed. I ve been seeing blue spots in my pillow like drops of something and i forgot about it i thought it was just some stain. Days later i found those spots in multiples places in my pillow. Then i found some drop tools in my husbands closed. I ve been through emotionnal hard time and i started to pass out regulary. I did the researsh and found thi.How can i know if he has been drugging me while im asleep.and what should i do about it . Thanks
    • Tanya
      I can’t believe no one responded to your comment. I hope your not dead honey. I would take the pillow or sheets to be tested and get a cops opinion. Be safe luv.
    • Jane
      Do what Tanya said. Contact the police.
  • casey kesselring
    set up a hidden camera. they are easy to get and can be hidden anywhere.