GBL: Treatment and rehabilitation

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 3:45 pm

After a single episode of intoxication with GBL or related drugs, symptoms usually resolve with supportive care within 2-96 hours, provided users get emergency treatment before permanent complications develop. There is no antidote for these poisons. Treatment consists of careful medical observation and supportive therapy until symptoms of toxicity subside.
Repeated users of GBL or related drugs should have intensive monitoring and medical intervention for withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing use. Withdrawal can take 10-14 days even with medical assistance, and should be followed by counseling for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse for as long as is needed. Attempting withdrawal without medical assistance is dangerous, and can result in suicide from intense depression or accidental overdose if the user tries to taper off the drug. Even with medical help, very few who go through withdrawal are cured of their addiction and, instead, continue to use the drug.
Patients undergoing abrupt withdrawal from GBL are monitored in the intensive care unit and are typically hospitalized for about five days for supportive care and treatment with pentobarbital, a strong sedative sometimes used for anesthesia. Withdrawal symptoms are so severe that benzodiazepines, which are milder tranquilizers than pentobarbital and which are typically the first line of treatment for drug withdrawal, were not effective. After discharge, patients received gradually decreasing doses of pentobarbital or benzodiazepines to control their symptoms of anxiety, delusions, and hallucinations.

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