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GHB Withdrawal And Detox: Managing The Symptoms

ghb withdrawal symptoms

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GHB withdrawal is common after stopping using the drug. The symptoms appear soon after discontinuation and may significantly interfere with the person’s daily life. That’s why it is important to be aware of the dangers posed by the GHB withdrawal symptoms to manage them effectively.

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Learn About GHB Withdrawal:

GHB Withdrawal

GHB withdrawal occurs when the drug is abruptly stopped, or the dosage taken is drastically reduced. People who suddenly stop taking gamma-hydroxybutyrate after using it for months or years are at higher risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms of GHB. The symptoms one may experience are dependent on several factors, including genetics, metabolism, dose, frequency, and duration of use.

Unintentionally missing one or more doses may also trigger Xyrem withdrawal symptoms within just a few hours because the drug is rapidly metabolized in the body.

Switching medications, either to avoid Xyrem side effects or for better treatment response, should also be done carefully with sodium oxybate. A sudden shift may lead to developing more severe conditions, too. It’s important to consult a doctor before making a switch.

withdrawal symptoms

GHB Withdrawal Symptoms

Quitting gamma-hydroxybutyrate cold turkey after regular use can cause physical and psychiatric symptoms. The most common GHB withdrawal symptoms are listed below.

Mild Symptoms

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sweating
  • insomnia
  • mild tremors

Since GHB drug class is characterized by a rapid metabolism, these symptoms may develop within a few hours after the last dose. The majority of these symptoms naturally subsides after 2-3 days.

Moderate Symptoms

  • abdominal cramps
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • anxiety

Severe Xyren Withdrawal Symptoms

  • increased heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • agitation
  • psychosis
  • paranoia
  • seizures
  • delirium
Rhabdomyolysis is one of the most severe GHB withdrawal complications that involves the breakdown of skeletal muscle fibers and releases toxins into the bloodstream. These toxins can damage the kidney and even worst – cause death. Even if the individual survives, there will still be a weakness due to muscle loss.

Others may also experience a lack of appetite, increased body temperature, dehydration, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.

The symptoms and effects of GHB withdrawal may differ from one person to another. The severity is greatly affected by genetic factors, as well as the dose, frequency, and duration of drug use. Taking additional drugs such as alcohol and benzodiazepines puts one at risk of developing GHB overdose symptoms. If one experiences any of these or other symptoms, the immediate doctor’s consultation is critical.

Withdrawal Timeline For Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate

Aside from the usual dose, frequency, and duration of drug use, the GHB withdrawal timeline may also be prolonged by stress, the presence of co-occurring illnesses, and mixing gamma-hydroxybutyrate with alcohol or other drugs. Generally, under normal circumstances, the GHB withdrawal duration will last for 1-2 weeks.

While the actual duration of GHB withdrawal may vary depending on the factors mentioned above, several studies have been conducted to develop an overall timeline associated with sodium oxybate discontinuation.

withdrawal timeline

1-6 Hours

The initial signs of GHB comedown will start to appear within the first 3 hours after the last dose. These symptoms include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and sweating. In some users, it takes up to 24 hours for the symptoms to appear.

1-6 Days

Symptoms will peak within 1 to 6 days after stopping sodium oxybate use. These now include progressive symptoms such as loss of appetite, severe anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, panic attacks, tremors, and hypertension. At this stage, medical assistance and close monitoring are important as individuals can have hallucinations and enter a psychotic state. One may become violent and delirious. Seizures may also occur, and this can be fatal.

1-2 Weeks

GHB withdrawal symptoms may last for one or two weeks, depending on the factors mentioned above. In some cases, symptoms like anxiety, confusion, depression, and insomnia may linger on for more months.

The Dangers Of Discontinuing GHB At Home

GHB withdrawal treatment is best done at a drug rehab facility with medical professionals. The use of medical-assisted programs is highly recommended to avoid GHB withdrawal complications. The dangers associated with the development of seizures and delirium are not manageable at home. These are best controlled with prescription medications and proper monitoring. That is why a person needs to consult with a doctor first and never try to manage the symptoms at home, as it may aggravate the current states.

medically assisted withdrawal

Medically-Assisted GHB Withdrawal

Users who are attempting to discontinue Xyren must be involved in a GHB withdrawal management or detox program. The GHB abuse treatment program includes supervision by a physician and other healthcare professionals as GHB withdrawal treatment may require the use of medications to control the symptoms and eliminate the possibility of a seizure attack.

Currently, lorazepam and pentobarbital are two medications most often used in GBH detox. Different benzodiazepines are used in combination with other medications to ease GHB withdrawal symptoms. Such medications include

Some may also prescribe antihypertensive drugs to control irregular heartbeats and high blood pressure. Other physicians give muscle relaxants to manage muscle tension, irritability, and cravings. OTC drugs that help prevent nausea and vomiting may also be provided. Patients should never take any medications for managing their conditions without a doctor’s prescription.

Treatment In A Rehab

Simply going through a detox program after testing positive on a GHB urine test is not enough. In most cases, there are co-occurring problems that need to be addressed, as these greatly influence one’s addiction. Drug abuse treatment should include behavioral therapies and a strong support group from rehabilitation facilities to avoid relapse at any stage of recovery and ensure long-term sobriety.

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Sources
  1. McDonough M, Kennedy N, Glasper A, Bearn J. Clinical features and management of gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) withdrawal: a review. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2004; 75(1): 3-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15225884.
  2. Miotto K. GHB Withdrawal Symptoms and Effectiveness of Treatment With Lorazepam Versus Pentobarbital – 1. 2005. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00123578.
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.

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