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Police finding ‘astronomical’ amounts of date-rape drug in Edmonton

EDMONTON – This year, Edmonton police have encountered more GHB – commonly known as the “date-rape drug” – in our city than ever.

So far, police have seized 206 litres of it, an amount Det. Guy Pilon of the EPS’ EDGE Unit said is “astronomical” compared to other years.

Police Chief Rod Knecht finds it particularly troublesome; he thinks the spike in GHB has contributed to an increase of sex assaults in the city (from 330 cases being investigated by the Sexual Assault Section in 2012, to 334 in 2013).

“The drug’s being dropped in people’s drinks at nightclubs, that sort of thing,” said Knecht.

But police say GHB is also being used for recreational purposes more than before.

“We’re seeing it on the streets, we’re seeing it at rave events,” said Pilon. “Five years ago, you wouldn’t see GHB on the street.”

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The drug, which is used as an anaesthetic in a medical setting, seems to be especially popular with 18 to 25-year-olds.

It’s similar to alcohol in the sense that it’s a central nervous system depressant. Police say, though, that there’s a fine line which separates someone from getting high on it to overdosing.

“It’s very potent,” explained Pilon. “And the dosage that people who use it want to attain, to get to that kind of ‘soft-spot,’ and the point where they overdose – and the (breathing) stops and they go unconscious – is very close,” Pilon explained.

GHB can cause short-term amnesia, loss of consciousness, as well as death.

“People using it are…putting themselves at risk all the time,” Pilay said.

“Until there’s a major incident like a death or a serious injury as a result of using it, people are going to use it.”

Some quick facts on GHB:

  • Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB) is an illegal drug; police say it’s often poured into the cap of a bottle for a 3-5mL standard dose
  • GHB is commonly referred to as “liquid ecstasy” or the “date rape drug” (because of the amnesia-type effect it produces).
  • In small doses, GHB can act as a stimulant and aphrodisiac.
  • The drug is fairly short-acting. Users will usually feel the effects after five to 20 minutes, and the drug will stay in their system anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours.
  • Consuming GHB with alcohol is dangerous as it can lead to vomiting, unconsciousness, and death.
  • In its liquid form, GHB is commonly found in small vials or water bottles.
  • GHB is traditionally manufactured in illicit drug labs where consumers have little knowledge or control over the drugs content.

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With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News

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