GBL Addiction

GBL is a chemical chameleon that is widely used in the industrial world as a potent solvent and cleaning agent. When ingested, however, GBL undergoes a sinister transformation, becoming GHB, a drug with powerful and often dangerous effects. This dual nature makes GBL both a valuable industrial tool and a substance with a high potential for abuse and addiction. There is a thin line between recreational use and GBL addiction, and the consequences of crossing that line can be incredibly severe.

What is GBL?

GBL stands for Gamma-Butyrolactone, a chemical widely used in industrial settings to dissolve other substances and clean surfaces. It is commonly found in products like cleaning agents, paint strippers, and even home items like nail polish removers.

However, when you take GBL as a drug, it converts into another chemical called GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate). GHB is a powerful drug that can make people feel very relaxed and happy but it can also be very dangerous causing dizziness, nausea, vomiting and even unconsciousness. These risks are particularly high if it is taken in large amounts or mixed with other substances like alcohol.

Both GBL and GHB are also known to be used as date rape drugs by “spiking” unattended drinks. This can leave the victim incapacitated and unable to resist or remember what happens afterwards.

How does an addiction to GBL develop?

GBL addiction often starts with trying out the drug at a party or with friends to see how it makes you feel. At first, it can seem harmless, but you may enjoy the temporary high or sense of calm that GBL creates.

This can then make you take the drug again every time you go out, but after a while, you may notice that you need to take a bigger dose to feel the effects. This is because your body is building a tolerance which is a common stepping stone towards GBL addiction.

Soon, you may start to notice that you are craving GBL throughout the day and that you experience anxiety, tremors, sweating and trouble sleeping when you haven’t taken any for a while.

As well as these withdrawal symptoms, you may also feel like you need GBL because it helps you with stress or to cope with other personal issues. Once you begin to rely on GBL for your emotional needs, you are caught in a full-blown drug addiction with GBL now dominating your energy and time at the expense of everything else

Am I addicted to GBL?

If you think you have developed an addiction to GBL, the best thing to do is to speak to addiction professionals. Here are some GBL addiction symptoms that could show you that you need help:

  • Feeling like you can’t get through the day without GBL and thinking about it constantly.
  • Experiencing GBL withdrawal symptoms that make quitting seem impossible.
  • Constant GBL use makes you put off important work, school or home duties.
  • You notice health problems related to your GBL use but you continue to use it anyway.
  • Your relationships with family and friends are suffering because of your GBL use.
  • You are spending more money on GBL than you can afford.
  • No longer being able to control your GBL use and taking it even when you don’t want to.

If these GBL addiction symptoms have made you think that your GBL use has crossed the line to addiction, reach out for professional help immediately.

What makes GBL addictive?

There are various factors that make GBL potentially addictive and can make it very difficult to quit. Some of the factors also explain why some GBL users develop an addiction to GBL and others don’t:


GBL is often easy to obtain as it is used in various industrial products. This can make it more likely for someone to start using and eventually become addicted.


Curiosity or a desire to experiment with new experiences can lead some people to try GBL. For some, this experimentation can quickly turn into a habit and then a GBL addiction.

Escaping reality

For some people, GBL offers an escape from stress, anxiety or emotional pain. This is especially true if they have nobody to help them with their problems or don’t know other ways to cope.

Social and environmental factors

Peer pressure and social circles that accept or encourage drug use can all play a role in you trying GBL and becoming addicted.

Lack of awareness

Some people might not be fully aware of the risks or believe that they can handle GBL without becoming addicted, leading to misuse and GBL addiction.

Why is GBL addiction dangerous?

GBL addiction is incredibly dangerous and can harm your health and every other part of your life. Here is why you need to be careful and reach out for professional help if you notice any of these effects:

Health risks

  • GBL overdose: Taking too much GBL can make you pass out, stop breathing or even kill you. The risk of GBL overdose increases dramatically when GBL is mixed with other drugs and alcohol.
  • Physical damage: Using GBL for a long time can hurt your liver, kidneys and heart and cause potentially irreversible damage.
  • Mental health issues: GBL can make you feel depressed, anxious or paranoid and it can make any existing mental health problems worse.
  • Risky behaviour: GBL can affect your judgment, making you do risky things like having unsafe sex or driving under the influence.
  • Memory problems: Using GBL for a long time can make it hard to remember things or think clearly.
  • Stomach issues: Chronic GBL use can make you feel constantly nauseous, cause vomiting and give you frequent stomach aches.

Impact on personal life

  • Neglecting responsibilities: GBL addiction can make you ignore your duties at school, work or home, leading to bad grades, getting fired or having problems with your family.
  • Social isolation: You may start avoiding friends and family, which can make you feel lonely and cause you to use more GBL.
  • Financial problems: Spending money on GBL can drain your savings and get you into serious debt.
  • Legal issues: Under the UK Misuse of Drugs Act, GBL possession without a license can result in up to 2 years in prison, while supplying or producing GBL carries a potential 14-year prison sentence.

What treatment is most effective for GBL addiction?

GBL addiction treatment needs three main stages: drug detox, rehab and ongoing support. Detox is where doctors help you stop using GBL safely and manage the withdrawal symptoms that were explained above. Drug rehab then provides you with therapy and counselling so you can understand why you started using GBL and how to live without it.

After rehab, it is then advisable to take part in an aftercare programme, join a support group like Narcotics Anonymous and keep practising everything you learned during treatment. These steps work together to help you quit GBL and stay healthy and sober in the long run.

Get help for GBL addiction today

If you or someone you care about is battling GBL addiction, it is crucial to get help right away. Linwood House provides expert support and comprehensive treatment plans to overcome GBL addiction and plan a brighter future. Contact Linwood House today and get all the help you need to transform your life.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between GBL and GHB?
GBL is a chemical used mainly in cleaning and industrial products but it is also a “precursor” to GHB, a drug that can make you feel very relaxed and happy. This means that when you take GBL, it changes into GHB in your body. This is one way that people get around the strict laws governing GHB because while GBL is also illegal as a recreational drug, it is still widely available in many easy-to-obtain products.
Is GBL used medically?
GBL itself is not usually used in medicine but when GBL is ingested, it turns into GHB in the body. In the UK, GHB, under the name Sodium Oxybate, is sometimes used to treat narcolepsy, but because it can be very addictive and dangerous, its use is very limited and strictly controlled.

(Click here to see works cited)

  • PubMed. “GHB, GBL and 1,4-BD addiction.” PubMed, Accessed 19 March 2024.
    GOV.UK. “Circular 001/2022: Reclassification of GHB and related substances.” GOV.UK, 13 April 2022,
  • Accessed 19 March 2024.
  • WebMD. “GAMMA BUTYROLACTONE (GBL): Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews.” WebMD, Accessed 19 March 2024.
  • UK-Rehab. “Treatment For GHB Addiction | UK Rehab.” UK-Rehab, Accessed 19 March 2024.
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