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How Long Does GHB Stay in Your System?

GHB can generally be detected on a urine drug test for about 12 hours after taking it. Drug tests given after that time period will generally not be able to detect GHB. The effects of GHB are usually felt within 15 to 30 minutes of taking it.[1] Its effects can be felt for one to six hours.

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Quick Facts About GHB Half-Life

Key Facts

  • GHB’s half-life is short at about 30 to 50 minutes.[2]
  • About 50% of a GHB dose is eliminated from the body within an hour of taking it.[2]
  • The liver metabolizes about 95% of GHB.[3]

How Long Can GHB Be Detected on a Drug Test?

The length of time that GHB can be detected on a drug test depends on the type of test.[1]

  • Blood test: GHB can be detected in blood for approximately four to six hours after consumption. 
  • Urine test: GHB can be detected in urine for about 12 hours after use. 
  • Saliva test: GHB can only be detected in saliva for an hour or two, so this type of test is impractical for this drug.
  • Hair test: GHB can potentially be detected in hair samples for several weeks or months after ingestion. 

This chart breaks down the length of time each type of test can potentially detect GHB:[1]

Test TypeTime Frame to Detect GHB Use
Urine12 hours
HairSeveral weeks or months
SalivaUp to 2 hours
Blood4–6 hours

How Is GHB Metabolized?

GHB is primarily metabolized by the liver, though other tissues also play a role in the removal of this toxin from the body.[3] GHB is broken down into succinic acid via enzymatic reactions. 

First, GHB enters the liver and is metabolized by GHB dehydrogenase. It is then converted into succinic semialdehyde. This metabolite is then converted into succinic acid, where it then enters the citric acid cycle and is metabolized to produce energy via adenosine triphosphate. This process generally takes between 30 minutes and one hour. 

Factors That Affect GHB’s Duration in Your Body

Many factors affect how long GHB remains in your body. These are some of the most important:[4,5]

Body Size

People who weigh more will generally require more time to eliminate toxic substances from their bodies due to their larger masses and potentially slower metabolisms. However, this is not always the case. 

Age

Age is another factor that influences metabolism. The most important predictor of how long GHB remains in your system is metabolism, so any factor that influences your metabolism will also likely influence how long a drug remains in your body. Metabolism slows with age, so being older usually means that GHB will stay in your system longer than it would a younger person. 

Overall Health

If you have any health conditions, particularly those that affect your kidneys or liver, you may metabolize drugs differently. Often, the presence of health issues can slow how your body processes drugs like GHB, meaning that it stays in your system for longer.

Why Is GHB Difficult to Detect on Drug Tests?

GHB is a tough drug to detect on drug tests due to its short half-life.[1] Since GHB is sometimes used as a date rape drug, this can be very problematic when it comes to testing victims.[6] Oftentimes, if a drug test isn’t given within 12 hours, the presence of GHB cannot be detected.

Updated December 1, 2023
Resources
  1. Kapoor P, Deshmukh R, Kukreja I. GHB acid: A rage or reprive. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2013;4(4):173-178. doi:10.4103/2231-4040.121410
  2. Busardò FP, Jones AW. GHB pharmacology and toxicology: acute intoxication, concentrations in blood and urine in forensic cases and treatment of the withdrawal syndrome. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015;13(1):47-70. doi:10.2174/1570159X13666141210215423
  3. GHB or Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate. Drugs.com. Accessible September 1, 2023.
  4. Kinirons MT, O'Mahony MS. Drug metabolism and ageing. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2004;57(5):540-544. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2004.02096.x
  5. Brill MJ, Diepstraten J, van Rongen A, van Kralingen S, van den Anker JN, Knibbe CA. Impact of obesity on drug metabolism and elimination in adults and children. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2012;51(5):277-304. doi:10.2165/11599410-000000000-00000
  6. Németh Z, Kun B, Demetrovics Z. The involvement of gamma-hydroxybutyrate in reported sexual assaults: a systematic review. J Psychopharmacol. 2010;24(9):1281-1287. doi:10.1177/0269881110363315
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