Last week I commented that I hoped the next stage of ACON’s GHB strategy would be targeting the dangers of using this drug at home. That has caused quite a reaction and as a result I have received a number of emails from people wanting me to explain what dangers I was referring to.

The data that is available show that the number of GHB overdoses presented to accident and emergency departments has dropped dramatically in recent years. This is particularly true of those overdoses that have originated from nightclubs or dance parties. This downward trend is reversed if we look at the number of overdoses that come from homes where groups of people gather to recover.

People who have been clubbing for some time know that this is a fairly new phenomenon. Even five years ago there were few clubbers who would consider partying at someone’s home after a big night out. A night of partying at a nightclub or party was usually followed by moving to a recovery venue; then, if the mood took you, to another; and then even another. It has only been recently that we’ve seen groups moving to homes for this recovery time. Significant changes in partying habits are usually linked to changes in drug use and this is no exception -“ this change appears to be linked to the use of GHB.

GHB is a powerful depressant that is highly dose-dependent. If you use just a little too much or you use G with other depressants, there is a chance that you will lose consciousness and your breathing will become laboured. In extreme cases we have seen deaths occur. It is acknowledged best practice across the world that if someone loses consciousness after using GHB that the person is monitored closely at the very least and, in the worst case scenario, receives medical assistance with their breathing.

Many GHB users have come to the conclusion that G is not a good drug to take in a club environment. There is always the risk of losing consciousness and this causes great problems, particularly for the club and friends who have to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, many people believe that taking G at home removes those problems. Not true -“ it simply moves the problems somewhere else and puts much more pressure on friends and particularly the person who is hosting the recovery.

Anecdotally we know that people are losing consciousness at home recovery events and that there is a belief that the user has simply fallen to sleep and that they always wake up. Some people do not come around -“ they have lost consciousness and some stop breathing altogether. This has happened within our community and there have been deaths at home recoveries. There is still great resistance to calling ambulances to homes, mainly due to a fear of police involvement. However, it is vital that medical help is called for -“ remember that, unless there is another crime committed, no police will ever be called to an overdose situation.

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