Continuing with our series of harm reduction tips around a range of popular drugs -“ this week we’ll be looking at G.

Attracting a great deal of attention over the past few years, GHB has proven the most difficult of all drugs to give practical harm reduction messages for as it has some unique characteristics that make it particularly risky. As with all drugs, there are a range of harms linked to the use of GHB and the best way to avoid these is not to use. For some this is simply not a realistic option and for those people it is important that we provide them ways of reducing the harm associated with their drug use.

One of the greatest risks of GHB is not knowing the strength of the drug. When G is made it comes in the form of crystals. These are extremely potent and need to be diluted into a liquid form. If the manufacturers are making the drug for themselves you tend to find that the drug is particularly potent, but if someone is making the drug to sell to others it makes much more economic sense to dilute it to maximize profits. This is one of the reasons why the strength can be so variable. There are no ways to tell how potent the drug is -“ colour, taste and smell are no indication. One way to reduce risk is to buy always from the same dealer -“ this at least ensures some continuity of quality. It is no guarantee but at least it’s better than nothing.

If you’re going to use G, plan ahead. Make a decision on how much you’re going to use for the night ahead and stick to it. If you’re planning on having two hits through the night, take only two with you -“ work out the times in the evening that you are going to use the drug and don’t veer from the plan. One sure way of reducing risk is never to buy in a club or other venue when you’re out of it. This is not a good time to buy more drugs. Your ability to make good decisions is affected and often you’re far more out of it than you really think and, as a consequence, particularly with G, things can go horribly wrong.

Make sure at least one person knows what you’re taking and that they stick with you for at least the first hour after you’ve taken the drug. Before a big night out discuss with friends how you would respond if something were to go wrong -“ always make sure you have an emergency plan. It is far easier to respond when you have thought it through when you are not on drugs.

Finally, if your G has not worked the way it normally does, avoid the temptation to take more. Much of the G in town at the moment is actually GBL or 1-4B (and even some other closely related products), all of which turn into G when taken. However, this takes time and you can find that, instead of coming on in the first 15 minutes, it can take considerably longer. Be patient -“ remember if you take more, the combined effects could push you over the limit.

These are just a few simple ways that you can reduce some of the risks associated with GHB use. If abstinence is not for you perhaps some of these tips involving small changes in behaviour may be helpful.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug, and no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?

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