Coma induced by abuse of γ-hydroxybutyrate (GBH or liquid ecstasy): a case report

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 04 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:35
  1. Gareth Thomas, senior house officera,
  2. Stephen Bonner, senior registrar in anaesthesia and intensive therapya,
  3. Alastair Gascoigne, consultant in intensive therapy and respiratory medicinea
  1. a Intensive Care Unit, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Bonner
  • Accepted 18 July 1996


We present a case of coma and respiratory depression secondary to γ-hydroxybutyrate abuse, necessitating mechanical ventilation and intensive therapy. This drug was available as a health food in the United States until it became a drug of abuse. It is now being taken in the United Kingdom.

Case report

A 32 year old man presented from a night club. His Glasgow coma score was 5, with pinpoint pupils and absent laryngeal reflexes. There was no evidence of head injury or intravenous drug abuse. His pulse rate was 30-50 beats/min, blood pressure 100/70 mm Hg, and respiratory rate 4 breaths per minute. His respiratory efforts were assisted with 100% oxygen using a bag and mask. There was no response to intravenous naloxone or flumazenil. His trachea was intubated without the need for …

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