Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (or GHB) moves out of the body very quickly.
Research suggests that the drug has a half-life of about an hour. That means it should take somewhere between two hours and five hours for your body to process the dose you take.
Does GHB Show Up on a Drug Test?
As you might expect, this means GHB is difficult to find in a routine blood or urine test. Unless you take the test just an hour or so after you take drugs, you should produce a clean sample.
Hair tests can find GHB weeks after you take the dose. However, not all companies offer GHB drug screening in hair samples, and it isn’t always considered a reliable form of testing.
If you’re using GHB, you might be able to pass drug tests with ease. But does this mean GHB is easy for you to quit using?
While GHB can’t easily be found in drug tests, the impact of GHB can stick around in your body for weeks. The withdrawal symptoms you experience could make your GHB use hard to hide, but treatment can help you feel better.
GHB In a Blood Test
Doses of GHB are typically taken orally, and the chemical moves from the stomach into the bloodstream. From there, it moves to the brain and the central nervous system, where it produces the sedation and amnesia associated with intoxication.
GHB blood tests are made to prove that the substance is actually within the blood. The test can also help professionals understand how much was taken and when.
The body is an efficient GHB processing machine. It can take up to four hours for the majority of the drug to be moved out of the bloodstream. That means people providing blood for GHB tests the following day or week could produce completely clear results.
This is a source of consternation for law enforcement officials. GHB is sometimes used as a date rape drug because it is colorless and rapidly dissolves in liquids. An attacker can slip it into a beverage and then take advantage of a sleepy, immobile victim just a few moments later.
Law enforcement officials would like clear blood tests that show how much GHB was given and when. But unless that test is administered close to the assault, the results aren’t likely to come back clear.
GHB in Urine
The kidneys are the body’s janitors, as they gather toxins and mix them with fluid for excretion as urine. In a urine test, experts collect that liquid and determine whether a drug is present and how much is there. Since GHB is excreted from the body so quickly, urine tests for this substance often come back clear.
Research suggests that GHB is undetectable in urine after about 12 hours. That can vary due to dehydration, weight, age, and other factors. But typically, a test given the day after a GHB dose will return with negative results.
This may be surprising to some employers. It’s become common for companies to require people to pass a urine drug test before accepting a new position. Some companies even perform random checks of their employees to ensure that no one is intoxicated on the job. A study of human resources professionals suggests that 92 percent use urine tests for this purpose.
Employers that hope to screen for GHB in urine may be disappointed. But those that test to ensure compliance with a treatment program may have another urine option.
Some companies offer testing equipment specifically calibrated to detect GHB, and that machinery can quantify how much was taken. About 5 percent of an oral dose leaves the body in an unchanged state, and these companies set up urine tests to spot that small percentage.
Officials testing urine for compliance with drug treatment can further ensure accurate results by:
- TIMING TESTS. They may ask you to provide samples every 12 hours, so there is no window of opportunity for drug use.
- RESTRICTING ACCESS. Some treatment programs restrict entrances and exits, so you can’t leave to find drugs.
- PROVIDING CONSEQUENCES. If you know you’ll lose your position in the program; you might be less likely to cheat.
- ENSURING QUALITY. Urine is measured for temperature, amount, and pH to confirm no tampering.
If you’re hoping to cheat a urine test so you can take GHB while in addiction treatment, these steps should be a sobering reminder. Your use can be discovered.
In some cases, officials will switch to a different type of test to ensure they don’t miss anything.
GHB Hair Test
Your hair works like a record of almost everything you’ve ingested, including GHB. There are lab tests that can detect this substance in strands of hair, but they’re not always considered accurate or trustworthy.
To test hair for GHB, researchers typically need to wait a month after the drug’s use. The body needs to push the hair from the follicle out of the scalp, and that takes time. Technicians often want several strands of hair to test, and they can determine when a single dose of GHB was taken.
While GHB can persist in hair, test results can be altered through:
- HAIR TREATMENTS. Bleaching, coloring, or otherwise subjecting hair to chemicals could shift the results.
- ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURE. Hair can pick up chemicals from the air, and that can show up in test results too.
- HAIRCUTS. People who shave their heads before the test have no samples to give.
- DISEASE. Some health issues change how quickly your hair grows, and that could alter results.
Some companies that offer hair testing don’t include GHB in their substances in which they search. That means a test provided by some groups may not even look for the drug that worries you.
GHB Detox Lasts Longer
If you’re dealing with a GHB addiction, these numbers may please you. They indicate that the substance clears out of the body relatively quickly, and that could give you a false sense of security about the damage done. You’ll still have more work to do to get clean, even if you can pass a drug test.
When the drug is no longer active in your body, the damage it causes can linger. Chemical processes remain altered, and brain cells continue to work in a modified way.
If you provide another GHB dose, you may not notice that change. If you don’t, you could enter withdrawal.
GHB detox can last for up to two weeks, and it can include unpleasant symptoms.
These symptoms can be severe, and in some cases, they are impossible to cover up. The people around you may know that something unusual is happening to your body, and they may be desperate to help you.
A treatment program offers you the best chance at relief. In a medical detox program, doctors can provide you with medications to ease your most significant symptoms. Medical professionals can offer therapies to soothe your anxiety and restlessness.
When medical detox is complete, you’ll need to move into a treatment program. You’ll learn new skills that can help you to preserve the sobriety you achieved during detox.
As part of this program, you may be required to submit to regular drug screening tests. There are methods professionals employ to ensure the results are accurate. In time, you’ll find it’s easier and easier to pass those tests without anxiety.
If you’re living with an addiction, don’t cheat. Put your mind to good use, and plot your return to a healthy and sober life with a treatment program.
You won’t need to sweat out your next drug test. You’ll be able to deal with that challenge and others with confidence.