Detoxification of patients with GHB dependence
background A new detoxification method for ghb dependence was developed recently in the Netherlands. The method involves the use of pharmaceutical ghb.
aim To describe the characteristics of ghb dependent inpatients, the course of the detoxification process and patients’ progress in the three months following inpatient detoxification.
method 229 ghb dependent patients were monitored during and after inpatient detoxification. Records were kept of the psychiatric symptoms, withdrawal symptoms and relapses.
results The average age of the patients was 29 years; 69% of the patients were male. They reported severe symptoms of co-occurring depression and anxiety. Detoxification was successful in 86% of the patients and, on a whole, the procedure ran smoothly, without complications. However, within three months following detoxification two-thirds of the patients had relapsed and were again taking ghb.
conclusion Pharmaceutical ghb can be used as an alternative to the benzodiazepine method for detoxifying patients with ghb dependence. However, the high relapse rates following detoxification are of great concern.