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Paediatric Laboratory Medicine

Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB)

Clinical Significance

Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant, which was first synthesized in the 1960's as an anesthetic drug. It was marketed in health food stores as an anabolic steroid alternative in the 1980's as it was thought to act as a "fat burner" and growth hormone promoter. It is now seen in the "Rave" nightclub scene, where it is used with criminal intent as a "date rape" drug or knock out drops. GHB comes either as a powder or liquid and can be easily bought on the streets by many names including: Grievous Bodily Harm, Scoop, Liquid Ecstacy or Cherry Meth. GHB is a relatively fast acting depressant. Within about 15 minutes of administration, drowsiness, dizziness, euphoria, nausea, visual disturbances and unconsciousness may ensue. The duration of action is about 3 hours. Peak urine GHB concentrations are observed within about 4 hours after an oral dose, but the drug is undetectable in urine by 12 hours.

Test Name

Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB)

Alternate Name/ Synonym

GHB, Scoop, Liquid Ecstacy

Test Code


Drug Class

Date Rape Drugs





External Proficiency Testing

KKGT - Netherlands (Association for Quality Assessment in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Clinical Toxicology)

Turn Around Time

Daily, Stat

Specimen Type

Urine (preferred) or Serum, Plasma (Heparin, Citrate or EDTA)

Minimum Specimen Requirements

2.0 mL

Optimal Collection Time

Within 12 hours of ingestion


4°C (transport with a cool pack if possible)

Special Requirements


Approval is not required

CPT Codes


Shipping and Contact Information

The Hospital for Sick Children
Rapid Response Laboratory
170 Elizabeth Street, Room 3642
Toronto, ON
M5G 2G3
Phone: 416-813-7200
Phone: 1-855-381-3212

Therapeutic Range

Not detected

Critical Values

Not detected: < 50 mg/L
Detected: > 50 mg/L