What's the buzz about wazz? 

GHB/GBL/1,4-BD (aka G, wazz, fantasy, liquid ecstasy) has been in the news again lately. We're taking a closer look at what's going on and ways to stay safer. 

What are GHB, GBL and 1,4-BD 

These are three different drugs. GBL (Gamma-Butyrolactone) and 1,4-BD (1,4-butanediol) are prodrugs to GHB, meaning they are turned into GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate) in your body after you take them. 1,4-BD has a slower onset than GHB but can be more potent. GBL is faster, stronger, and easier to overdose on than GHB.

They're nervous system depressants, meaning they can slow your body down and make you feel euphoric, horny, groggy, and nauseous.  

GHB and GBL can take 15-20 minutes to kick in, and the effects last for 1-4 hours. 1,4-BD can take longer to kick in (up to 45 minutes), and people may be tempted to take more before feeling the effects, which can increase the risk of overdose.

With GHB, GBL and 1,4-BD, difference between a dose you can feel and an overdose can be very tiny - we're talking millilitres. These drugs affect your memory too, meaning that it can be easy to take another dose without keeping track of what you've taken before.  

Why has G been in the news lately? 

In December 2021, New Zealand's drug early warning system, High Alert, put out a notice because they'd found toxic chemical diethylene glycol being sold as 1,4-BD. That's straight-up bad news, because diethylene glycol – an industrial chemical – can be toxic or even deadly in extremely low doses. 

In April 2022, High Alert again issued a notification of people turning up in hospital with some severe symptoms after taking G. These symptoms were consistent with  diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol poisoning.

In August 2023, news outlets reported that several people in Taranaki had been hospitalised in relation to suspected GHB/GBL/1,4-BD overdose.

What have we been seeing and hearing about GHB/GBL/1,4-BD? 

Anecdotally, we've been talking to people that have reported coming across GHB/GBL in a paste or jelly form, who have said it doesn't feel quite right. Sometimes, what is sold as GHB/GBL/1,4 BD is actually a mix of drugs including industrial products, like adhesive remover. 

It is likely that these gels and pastes are a mix of GHB/GBL/1,4-BD and other chemicals, some of which might not be safe to ingest.  

Drug checking providers can check your GHB/GBL/1,4-BD using a scientific machine called a spectrometer

How can you stay safer when using GHB/GBL/1,4-BD? 

First off, checking your drugs is always a smart idea, especially when they could be something as nasty as diethylene glycol. Drug checking is free, legal and confidential and we only need a small amount of your sample to run the tests (for liquid, that’s 1-2 drops). Find a drug checking clinic near you here.

Secondly, because there's such a fine line between active dose and overdose with these drugs, measuring your dose is really important. Treat any GBL/GHB/1,4-BD as if it's GBL – meaning dose it at a lower rate. Drug checking can tell you if you have GHB, GBL or 1,4-BD, which can help you be more informed about dosage.

If your G is in a liquid form, shake the container to distribute the drug more evenly and avoid accidental overdose.

At drug checking clinics, we have droppers and containers with millilitre markings on them, so you know exactly how much you're taking. Otherwise, cleaning out a small soy-sauce container (the little fish ones) is a great option as the plastic is tough enough that these drugs won’t melt it!  

Drug Foundation programme lead Shaun has some excellent advice: 

“Measure out your doses in advance if you can and set timers or make a spreadsheet with everybody’s names/dose times – G can impact your memory significantly, so this helps to stick to your limits.  Store G in a non-drinking style bottle or add food colouring to it to reduce the chance of somebody drinking it accidentally.”

It's best not to mix GHB/GBL with other depressants – especially alcohol or ketamine. These can amplify the effects of each other and cause serious harm.

We've got more info here on what to expect and ways to be safer if you're taking G. 


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