June 16, 2014 1:39 pm

Expert warns against taking GBL after friends die ‘hours apart’

GBL, or gamma-butyrolactone, is legal for use in the chemical industry as it can be found in cleaning products, solvents, paints and is commonly used as an alloy wheel cleaner.

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TORONTO – A coroner at an inquest in the UK is warning against the use of so-called party drug GBL.

In 2012, 28-year-old Lynette Nock collapsed in front of friends at a memorial wake for her friend, 24-year-old Carl Fearon, who also died after consuming the same lethal substance.  

Nock was rushed to the hospital but died shortly after.

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At an inquest last week,  senior coroner Louise Hunt said the case highlights the “very extreme risks that people take when using legal highs, particularly in combination with alcohol.”

“These substances shouldn’t be taken and they do have a traumatic effect which your family will be living through for the rest of their lives.”

What is GBL?

GBL, or gamma-butyrolactone, is legal for use in the chemical industry as it can be found in cleaning products, solvents, paints and is commonly used as an alloy wheel cleaner.

Why was GBL banned for recreational use in Canada?

GBL has been banned for recreational use under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in Canada since 2005.  

The chemicals in GBL are closely related to GHB (and gamma hydroxybutyrate) and once the substance enters the body, it converts into GHB very quickly.

READ MORE: Scientists develop sensor that detects ‘date rape drug’ within seconds

GHB is notorious for being used to spike beverages.  A small amount of between two to four grams of GHB will interfere with motor and speech control, and may even induce coma-like sleep. The drug takes effect within 15 to 30 minutes, and the effect can last for three to six hours.

What happens when the drug is consumed?

Sometimes referred to as “coma in a bottle,” GBL is often diluted with juice, water or alcohol.

Experts say the drug has a “euphoric effect with reduced inhibitions” and when consumed has a more sedative feeling than GHB.

Experts say side-effects of the drug can vary. Low does (around 0.5 mg) can include mild symptoms like a headache or can result in more severe side-effects such as seizures, blackouts, respiratory failure and even death.

As traces of the substance remain in the body for only up to 12 hours, the exact number of fatalities is unknown.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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