GBL or Butyrolactone, a dangerous synthetic drug

Egbert Haynes

GBL or gamma butyrolactone is a synthetic GABAergic chemical that produces effects similar to those of alcohol consumption: euphoria, disinhibition, relaxation, etc..


  • What is GBL?
  • GBL effects
    • Physical effects of GBL
    • Cognitive effects of GBL
    • Serious adverse effects
  • Other dangers of GBL use
    • Special precautions and warnings:
  • Interactions of GBL with other substances
    • Alcohol
    • Amphetamines
    • Psychopharmaceuticals
    • Benzodiazepines and other sedatives
    • Pain medication
    • Anticonvulsants
    • Muscle relaxants
    • Ritonavir and Saquinavir
  • Dependence and overdose

What is GBL?

GBL (gamma butyrolactone), like 1,4-BD (1,4-butanediol) are precursor chemicals for GHB, once GBL or 1,4-BD enters the body, they are converted to GHB very quickly, substance that affects various nerve pathways in the brain.

GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) is an anesthetic with primarily sedative non-analgesic properties. It is often sold as "liquid ecstasy" due to its relaxing and euphoric effects, although it is not related to ecstasy..

GHB, GBL, and 1,4-BD are both colorless, odorless, oily liquids that have a slightly salty taste. Users often consume them mixed with water or other soft drinks. When used recreationally, GHB, GBL, and 1,4-BD are sold in small bottles or capsules..

GBL is a chemical reagent used as a stain remover, paint and glue thinner, air freshener, wheel cleaner, and others. It has also been found in some unsweetened wine sample extracts, It can also be found in cheese flavorings, suggesting that to some extent it may be found naturally.

GBL, along with 1,4-butanediol, is known to dissolve most types of plastic over time. For this reason, it is recommended to transport and store these substances only in glass containers, standard gelatin capsules (non-vegetarian) or high-density polyethylene plastic..

Despite being a chemical that was initially manufactured for industrial uses and its use is prohibited or regulated, depending on the country, there are people who use GBL to increase sports performance, improve sleep and increase sexual pleasure and performance. It is also taken to relieve depression and stress, as it causes relaxation. GBL is also used to reduce the level of body fat and as a muscle builder in the body. Some people use it simply as a recreational drug.

GBL effects

As we have already advanced, consuming GBL in low doses (between 0.5 and 2 grams) produces an effect similar to that of alcohol with euphoria, relaxation, disinhibition, etc. In higher doses it acts as a sedative and can lead to unconsciousness. GBL has caused deaths.

The effects appear between 20-30 minutes after taking and last for about two hours. GHB seems to have a certain effect on the sexual sphere (increases tactile sensitivity, facilitates and enhances orgasm ...).

Doses between 0.5-1 ml every 2-3 hours usually achieve the desired effects with a low risk of overdose (although it may vary according to each person). Higher doses or frequencies facilitate toxicity and the appearance of its most dangerous effects.

Its detection in biological fluids (blood, urine, hair ...) is very complicated and is not possible through the usual tests.

Here is a list of GBL effects based on personal experiences. The listed effects rarely appear all at once, although at higher doses, the more likely they will all appear. Similarly, adverse effects become much more likely with higher doses and can include serious injury and even death..

Physical effects of GBL

  • Stimulation and sedation: in low doses, GBL is physically stimulating, activates movement and promotes wakefulness. However, at higher doses, it becomes physically sedating, promoting sleepiness and lethargy..
  • Salivation
  • Loss of motor control
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory depression: in cases of overdose an abnormal breathing pattern appears characterized by progressively deeper and sometimes faster breathing, followed by a gradual decrease that causes a temporary stop of breathing called apnea.
  • Sickness
  • Stomach pain and cramps: This effect (like nausea) is more common with GBL than GHB, due to its properties as an irritant of the stomach mucous membrane. The most effective way to reduce this is to dilute it with a large meal or drink..
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle cramps
  • Blurry vision

Cognitive effects of GBL

  • Euphoria
  • Disinhibition
  • Anxiety suppression
  • Empathy and improved sociability: unlike alcohol, which simply increases sociability thanks to disinhibition, GBL has strong entactogenic effects (increased empathy and feelings of closeness with others), although weaker than MDMA.
  • Confidence
  • Thought slowing
  • Amnesia
  • Increased libido
  • Increased musical appreciation

Serious adverse effects

Consumption of GBL, gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), and butanediol (1,4-BD) have been linked to serious and life-threatening side effects. These effects include vomiting, loss of bowel control, excessive sedation, agitation, aggression, memory loss, labored breathing, fainting, seizures, coma, and death. The effects can be worse if it is taken with alcohol or narcotics, such as morphine and heroin and others. Long-term use can lead to withdrawal symptoms including insomnia, tremor, and anxiety.

Other dangers of GBL use

The most common form of consumption of GBL is drunk, directly or dissolved in a soft drink. It is popularly known as chorri, pots, baby bottles, G ...

It is known that this type of drug is widely used, mainly in discos and clubs..

According to some reports and complaints, GBL is used as a "rape drug" in these environments (as a legal alternative to GHB), secretly applying a few drops to drinks, for this reason special care must be taken when a stranger offers us a drink , it is also recommended not to lose sight of what we are consuming.

Special precautions and warnings:

Using GBL is not safe and should not be taken by anyone, but certain people, like the ones listed below, are at higher risk for serious side effects.

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: its consumption during pregnancy or breastfeeding is very dangerous for the health of the mother and the baby..
  • Irregular heartbeat - can make this disorder worse.
  • Epilepsy: can promote the appearance of seizures.
  • High blood pressure - can increase blood pressure even more.
  • Surgery: GBL directly affects the central nervous system (CNS). Their combination of anesthetics and other medications used during and after surgery can depress the CNS excessively. It should also not be taken in the two weeks prior to a scheduled surgery..

Interactions of GBL with other substances


Alcohol by itself already causes CNS drowsiness and depression. Taking GBL with alcohol can greatly enhance these effects and be especially dangerous.


Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that directly affect the nervous system. Stimulants mask the sedative effect of depressants. Once the stimulant effects wear off, the depressant effects of GBL will increase significantly, leading to intense heightened disinhibition, loss of motor control, and dangerous states of loss of consciousness. This combination can also cause severe dehydration if fluid intake has not been enough.


In general, all drugs indicated for mental disorders (psychoactive drugs) interact with GBL, so its effects can be enhanced.

Benzodiazepines and other sedatives

Taking GBL along with sedative medications enhances muscle relaxation, sedation, amnesia, and respiratory depression caused by the other, causing dangerous side effects. Some of these sedative medications are clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, phenobarbital, zolpidem, and others..

Pain medication

Some pain medications can cause dizziness and drowsiness, one of the effects of GBL. Therefore, as in the previous case, GBL cannot be consumed if we are taking medications such as meperidine, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and many others..


Medicines used to prevent seizures affect chemicals in the brain. Once ingested, GBL is transformed into one of these brain chemicals called GABA. Taking GBL along with medications used to prevent seizures could modify their effects. Some medications used to prevent seizures include phenobarbital, primidone, valproic acid, gabapentin, carbamazepine, phenytoin, and others..

Muscle relaxants

Muscle relaxants also make you drowsy. Taking GBL along with muscle relaxants can lead to excessive drowsiness, slow breathing, and other serious side effects. Some of these muscle relaxants are carisoprodol, orphenadrine, cyclobenzaprine, gallamine, atracurium, pancuronium and others..

Ritonavir and Saquinavir

Ritonavir (Norvir) and saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase) are retroviral drugs used to treat HIV / AIDS. Taking both drugs plus GBL could decrease how quickly the body clears GBL. This could cause serious side effects..

Dependence and overdose

Unfortunately, it is very easy to overdose with this type of drug, as the dose can vary from one bottle to another, in addition it is such small amounts that the difference between a recreational dose and an overdose can be a matter of milliliters.

GHB / GBL or 1,4-BD overdose can be very dangerous. May cause nausea and vomiting, seizures, disorientation, muscle stiffness, coma, and respiratory collapse.

There is also a danger of physical dependence. While this appears to be quite rare, when someone develops a dependency it can be quite severe, with a rapid onset of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can include delusions, psychosis, tremors, insomnia, and severe anxiety..

Dependence can develop fairly quickly, for example, after a weekend of heavy use of GHB and its related compounds, or it can result from regular use over a longer period of time. Currently, withdrawal from GHB-type substances is being treated with benzodiazepines, although more studies are needed to establish other treatments.

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