Dicing with death: Partygoers are using a ‘super potent’ sex drug that is causing a silent epidemic of addiction with fatal consequences
- Jan Gerber, chief executive of Paracelsus Recovery warns of a sex drug epidemic
- He said ‘date rape’ drug GHB is now being used as a cheap alternative to cocaine
- Mr Gerber thinks that thousands of hospital admissions can be linked to the drug
Soaring use of a ‘super-potent’ party drug often used to enhance sex is leading to a silent epidemic of addiction with fatal consequences, according to an expert.
GHB, derived from the solvent in paint stripper, is best known as a ‘date rape’ drug and was used by prolific sex offender Reynhard Sinaga, who was jailed last year for 159 sexual offences, including the rapes of 136 men.
Now Jan Gerber, chief executive of rehabilitation clinic Paracelsus Recovery, says GHB is increasingly being used as a cheap alternative to cocaine and ecstasy.
Jan Gerber believes the drug – known simply as ‘G’ – is linked to an increase in suicides among gay men, and to heart failure deaths in healthy young people
His clinic has seen referrals rise more than fivefold from about 20 in 2015 to more than 100 in 2020.
‘We are seeing a silent epidemic of GHB addiction and the frightening thing is that a tiny overdose can produce coma and death,’ he said.
‘We have seen multiple clients become addicted to GHB, undergo numerous comas while using it and then struggle with major depressive disorder.’
GHB, a ‘chem-sex’ drug that reduces inhibitions and can heighten sexual pleasure, is most commonly used by gay men but is now being used as a more general party drug due to its cheap price and potency.
GHB was used by prolific sex offender Reynhard Sinaga, who was jailed last year for 159 sexual offences, including the rapes of 136 men
Mr Gerber said the dangers of the drug – known simply as ‘G’ – were often underrated and he believes it is linked to an increase in suicides among gay men, and to heart failure deaths in healthy young people.
His clinic is treating a client who lost two friends to heart failure where GHB was not mentioned on their death certificates ‘but he knows they took it, as he was there’.
GHB is not typically looked for in post-mortem tests, and is hard to spot as the body processes it quickly.
‘We think GHB is linked to thousands of hospital admissions and hundreds of deaths each year, although most of these go down as cardiac arrests or unexplained deaths,’ said Dr Gerber.
‘We also believe it is an unknown factor in many suicides.’
Three years ago, the Global Drug Survey, an anonymous poll of drug users, found one in five who took GHB had passed out after doing so, although it said fatal overdoses were rare.