Written by Lung Andrea, MA Counseling, Soulthoughts
Reviewed by Gelsei Bernadett, Substance Abuse Counseling Specialist, Drog Stop Budapest Association
Translated by Sylvia P. Farkas
GHB (in Hungarian also referred to as Gina) is like a Z-category motion picture. No one is interested in it, no one cares about it, there is nothing good one could say about it, yet everyone knows it, everyone tries to avoid it, but it keeps on appearing here and there. It's like dry quicksand. You cannot escape. You have to face it where and when you are the less aware, since you would not expect to meet it. But you get it then, right into your face. It's been everywhere for years, at parties and also at festivals. It's not true that only those get involved with it who are not careful enough, who are drunk , silly, naughty girls or youngsters. Anyone can be a victim. It is on the lurk, it gets you quickly and slyly and knocks you out. This is a though and depraved attack against you. A mental and physical abuse caused by self-serving goals. An aggressive act to get something that you would never give away willingly. It can be anything: your cell phone/ mobile phone, your money, your body or one of your organs. It is worse than a punch-up or a ladies fight since you cannot punch back. You have no chance to protect yourself or to avoid the conflict. Your body is right in the middle of this combat, whether you want it or not, while your mind happens to be in a different reality. So it is better for you to know what this drug is about, what harm it can cause to your organism, and so you won't automatically judge anyone who gets into this situation; what's more, you might realise what the situation is about and you can help somehow, since you are well prepared.
GHB, GLB, GIBA
GHB is nothing other than a naturally occurring substance that can also be found in the human central nervous system in very small quantities. The proper name for GHB is gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid. It is liquid, tasteless and odourless - so also called liquid ecstasy - since it is easy to distribute and to consume. It had been used in medicine as an anesthetic but is now on black list. It does not cause addiction, but an overdose or when mixed with alcohol can be life threatening. It can result in respiratory arrest or death by suffocation. It works within 10-60 minutes, and needs 20-25 minutes to numb the victim. It completely eliminates from the body in 14-16 hours so it can only be detected in the urine within 12 hours time. One would think that such drugs cannot be obtained so easily. Unfortunately, they can. The real problem actually is GBL, that can be found in paint thinners, industrial cleansers and solvents. GBL, gamma-butyrolactone, is a corrosive substance, it gets into the body in dissolved form, where it converts rapidly to GHB and affects the central nervous system. So there we are, back at the root of the problem. The impact of GHB on the body depends on the amount of GBH that gets into the organism. It might be unbelievable, but GBH was used in small amount (50 mg) for weight gain in the eighties. When increasing the dose (250-300 mg) it creates euphoria, but if a higher dose is consumed, it can knock out its victims for hours, who appear to be totally sober and able to act. And this is the most important and most dangerous characteristic of GHB, since in fact, the victims are helpless, even unconscious in the worst case, that is, totally incapable of defending themselves.
Science and Life
There are things in life that seem very logical, at least as long as you do not experience them on yourself. No scientific literature nor any lecture on addiction is capable of giving you a real picture of the emotional reality that could reflect the kind of horror that the victims of GHB have to undergo. The experienced ones do not philosophize confidently about their experience, many in fact feel ashamed. They rather prefer to forget it. One thing is for sure: those who have never been given GHB, cannot even imagine what one has to face! I do not wish anyone to experience it. Neither the physical nor the mental ordeal, which I was unstintingly and redundantly given to experience last summer. I do not like to talk about what happened, but I'm not willing to feel ashamed because I was a victim of a criminal offense. That evening I lost face, not once. I don't want anybody feel ashamed if that happens, therefore, I will tell my story. I do not know why it was me, I'm not fragile nor very young, and I was not dressed provocatively either. Yet it was my glass that the drug was put into, and GHB put my body and my mind into a condition that I could not have ever imagined it existed at all. There was nothing great about it, nothing euphoric that you would expect from a decent drug. The whole experience was rather a desperate inner struggle, not a happy trip at all, that others perceived as an unimaginably drunk woman running amok. A state of physical and mental K.O., of which every minute was like a frightful floating somewhere in the paradox borderland between death and absolute consciousness.
Protect yourself if you can!
I don't know where I was given GHB. Even though I rethought everything again and again for a hundred times... I still don't know. I do not rule out the bartenders or the festival visitors either. It could have been anyone. I do not know exactly when I got it, but I know exactly when it began to work on me, since it completely changed my behaviour. Well, I even found it strangely awesome, as I'm usually not that confident. I do not remember having been in a euphoric condition, but after a while - and that's for sure - I became bluntly honest, which surprised me the most. Then suddenly the whole world became some kind of broken. I stood at the counter and noticed that I was not really present in my own reality. There were only flashy pictures of the face opposite me. I clearly felt that something was wrong. I felt dizzy. I headed for the mobile toilets, I even managed to get into one, but out, I couldn't. I threw up everything I had in my stomach, but I acknowledged it with such a strange indifference, as if that would happen to me at least four times every week. I looked in the mirror: double vision. I stared into the mirror and I could let go. I couldn't get out. I couldn't find the way out. Finally, the security guard took me out. Without any spatial perception, and only with some kind of superhuman will could I finally move my legs. One step, again, and one more. I somehow managed to get to a road-bank - as it turned out later, it was only five steps away - and there I broke down. I lost my orientation. I couldn't sense spatiality, I couldn't see it. I completely lost perception with the physical world. I was nowhere: neither above, nor down below, nor right, nor left. I was surrounded by some strange kind of darkness and a strangely muffled stillness. Suddenly my mind was hit by another recognition.
Bodiless consciousness, unconscious body
Namely, that this existence of mine in this darkness is not physical, it is only conscious. Logically, this is only possible if I do not have a body. It was the scariest moment of time brought me by GHB. I was sitting with my wide awake consciousness in a dark pit, and I knew that my body was missing. I got into panic. I knew that the condition I was in, was not normal, but I could not find sense in this extraordinary situation, neither could I explain to myself where my body had gone, where I was at all and how I got there. The only thing that was certain was that I was a bodiless consciousness in a dark place, a soul, that was responsible for the body that was assigned to her. But I clearly knew that I had no connection to my body. I had no control over it. It was some kind of evil magic that put me into that dark place. I got terribly scared. I knew that according to a so far consciously avoided rule - the importance and universal aspects of which struck me so deeply as nothing ever before - I should certainly not leave my body without any permission. Or to say so, until I die. Another wave of panic rushed over me. What if I died, but I did not notice? No, it couldn't be so dark if I did. I somehow was quite sure that I was still alive. That comforted me for a moment and gave me some clues about the possible limits of my existence.
The velvet prison
I started an inventory. I'm not dead. I also possess my consciousness. But I have no body. I'm still somewhere though. At least I should find out what this soft and dark place around me, that is not frightening but feels rather somehow strangely safe, is. A velvet prison made of clouds. It cannot be anything else. I was completely satisfied with my explanation, since I knew my mind was safe, but why was it imprisoned? The most painful recognition about GHB struck me then. It reminded me of a desperate mother who realizes that she lost her child. Suddenly I understood that there was nobody to take care of my body and that anything could happen to it. Somebody quite simply stole my body from my consciousness. Someone stole it from me, and with that, also my right that I was entitled to from the moment I was born: my right to rule over my body and my responsibility for it. My conscious awareness started to whine in the dark. I knew my body was totally defenceless without my consciousness. I felt so desperate, I started crying. Inside, in that dark but safe place, my consciousness started weeping with the deepest of pain, since it was obvious that there was no way to protect my defenceless body. And then also my conscious awareness shut down, and from that moment on, some kind of fierce combat took in between me and GHB , a struggle for some kind of physical awareness between physical existence and elusive worlds. A mental black out.
Unfortunately my body, that had been separated from my consciousness, knew nothing about the whole situation. My body simply sat on the ground, helplessly, in a nearly unconscious state, like a drunken person would do. A disgustingly drenched woman, speaking and reaching after by-passers, but barely able to lift her head. Reportedly I kept on telling everyone that I was not drunk and that I needed help because I felt sick. Allegedly I was crying too. Supposedly, I say, because I have no memories about this at all. For a long time, no one helped. I assume I didn't look very convincing, since I threw up and peed on my dress before. I didn't recognize anything from the outside world. Nothing reached me. Suddenly, I realized that someone was trying to address me. She was blond and I knew instinctively that she wanted to help. No matter how I tried, I could not raise my eyes to look at her. My eyes did not obey. It is still a mystery to me how I was actually able to tell her my name, my sister's name and even my friend's name, who had been looking for me for a long while. We never disappear without saying a word. Not even for a half an hour's time. As it turned out, only 30 minutes passed. 30 minutes. For me, time did not exist in its linear form as we know it. For me it was nothing but a timeless existence, flashy pictures and some noise. One flash after another. I wasn't playing full deck. On the physical level, in my delirium, I talked about my innermost fears and sorrows. I talked, cried and threw up several times. I had been dragged home because I could not move.
Do not leave it to your good luck
Despite all that, I was lucky. I was lucky because I collapsed in a place where there were many people, but not too many. So I couldn't be imperceptibly insulted, or being overrun, or robbed or raped. I was lucky because someone stopped and listened to what I said. That is, that I was not drunk. Someone noticed that something was wrong. She didn't leave me there, did not simply put me off. She found my sister and waited until she arrived. She didn't leave me alone. I am very grateful to her, because she acted benignly in a situation that could have cost my life. I'm not going to tell you not to go out and have fun. I will not tell you not to drink, not to take drugs or not to get acquainted with anybody. It wouldn't make any sense, since you're going to do anyway what you want. But please, if you cannot completely withstand such cases, at least do not simplify the situation for the offenders. To put GHB in someone's drink is a crime, and someone who puts GHB into someone's glass prepares another crime. This is the same kind of aggressive felony as being knocked out in a dark street corner to prey upon you. In both cases you could die.
Consider the following advice, they may be useful one day
- Do not go out on your own. Go out with friends. More people can take care of each other much better. Never leave each other! If someone is missing and/or if you speak on the phone but the missing person cannot explain where she/he is, go and search for your friend immediately!
- Always keep your phone charged. Take a charger or spare batteries as well. If you are with friends, this cannot be a problem. Set at least two ICE contacts in your phone, so if strangers who want to help find you, they will know who to call.
- Never leave your glass unattended or pass it to someone you do not know. If possible, consume drinks that are opened in front of you. Never take drinks from strangers, and if you do not know the origin of them.
- Listen to your body! If you feel that something is wrong with you, do not hesitate to ask for help! If you suddenly feel sick or dizzy, say it! If there is a possibility of GHB, see the doctor immediately, and ask for a blood test as soon as possible.
- Ask for help! You don't have to fear the consequences!
- If you are a parent, talk to your children about GHB and make them aware of the danger, so they will know what to do in such case, and they will also know that they can count on you in such situations.
Finally, something you might have influence on: something that does not happen to you but what happens with your involvement. Many times it takes everyday people to avoid tragedy. Do not forget, even if it seems quite unlikely, but you could be a victim as well.If you see someone in trouble, try to help. Do not pass by and leave someone who is unconscious.
- If the person is alone and behaves confused or is crying but cannot move, ask if you can help. Ask who she/he came with, ask what is wrong and ask if you could call someone for her/him.
- Do not leave the person alone until help arrives!
- You don't need to solve the problem on your own ! Get medical help if you think it's necessary.
- If you are at a festival ask the Security for help or look for the next medical and drug points!If someone feels sick in the crowd, help them get out of there!
... And last but not least ... You, the blond girl who kindly stopped to help me! I won't give away your name, but once again, thank you!
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