Toxicological reviews

Gamma-butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol: abused analogues of gamma-hydroxybutyrate.

PMID 15298490


gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a GABA-active CNS depressant, commonly used as a drug of abuse. In the early 1990s, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warned against the use of GHB and restricted its sale. This diminished availability of GHB caused a shift toward GHB analogues such as gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD) as precursors and surrogates. Both GBL and 1,4-BD are metabolically converted to GHB. Furthermore, GBL is commonly used as a starting material for chemical conversion to GHB. As such, the clinical presentation and management of GBL and 1,4-BD intoxication shares a great deal of common ground with that for GHB. This similarity exists not only for acute intoxication but also for withdrawal in those patients with a history of extended high-dose abuse. This review examines the history of GHB analogue abuse as well as the clinical presentation and management of acute intoxication and withdrawal associated with abuse of these compounds.