Citation: Mouldy Grapefruit. "Substitute for Problem Drinking: An Experience with GBL & Alcohol (exp62614)". Erowid.org. Dec 15, 2007. erowid.org/exp/62614
I am a 25 year old gay male living in London. Throughout my childhood I suffered severe emotional abuse at the hands of my parents and sometimes physical abuse in the form of a thick leather belt with a big metal bolt on it whilst naked. As a result I was severely screwed up for my entire childhood, which was made much worse as I made no friends and spent my entire time at school being cruelly reminded of the fact I had no friends by the vast majority of people at school. I also gambled excessively on fruit machines, again starting at age 13, and went cottaging in public toilets from age 14. Thankfully I was never raped.
I became severely depressed, suffered from severe anxiety and at age 13 I began abusing alcohol in quantities a professional adult pisshead would consider to be excessive. I had very little money so I began to brew my own very strong alcohol in secret, which thanks to the crazy taxes on drinking we have in the UK, reduced the cost of my drinking by as much as 90%. Despite my excesses I was determined to succeed at school so I could escape by going to a good university, and as a very intelligent guy I did extremely well in my exams. Unfortunately I was not emotionally ready for the real world as I was about to find out.
I drank like a fish whilst studying maths at university. I say studying, but this is a gross distortion of the truth as I did nothing but drink. I also made friends with 2 other people through the student bridge club who did this as well. I barely made it through my degree and when I graduated in 2003 I had no intention of looking for work because that wasn't drinking. It is now 2007. I feel it is relevant to briefly mention other medications I have taken before continuing. I took Cipralex (escitalopram) for 4 days and experienced my depressive symptoms becoming so much worse I tried to kill myself with alcohol and painkillers. The hospital responded my referring me for counselling (I have been to endless therapists in my history and have derived no benefit whatsoever from any of them) and by doubling my dose of Cipralex. I couldn't believe I was explaining that the drug did this and their 'listening people' responded by doubling the dose - this is why I hate counsellors. I am now prescribed Effexor but I don't take it, I just smile and say OK so I can continue getting doctor's notes and hence get benefits. I also did MDMA in moderation (previously unheard of for me) for 2 years, and I feel the connection to others and love of myself and others the experience gave me saved my life.
Anyway, I quit drinking on New Year's Day 2007. However alcohol is so addictive for me that I managed 4 days. At which point my mind was going through absolute hell and I wanted to die, so on the 5th day I resumed drinking for 6 days. At some point I decided I would like to be prescribed antabuse so that if I drank it would make me ill, and naltrexone to block out cravings for alcohol, and I called my doctor. When I went to see him he referred me to a substance misuse specialist and this person point blank refused to prescribe these drugs. He informed me that binge drinking was 'part of British culture' and not to worry. For once I stood up for myself and argued with him for an hour and a half that my problem was serious, but (quote from South Park) 'naturally, we're not listening'.
I woke up on the 11th and realised I had drunk a litre of gin the previous day, then moved onto several beers and had gambled away £450 on the internet, and that the medical people had no intention of helping me. I managed to quit again for 4 days before once again hell was raging in my mind and I was about to go to the off licence. However this time I thought to myself 'maybe G can help'. I had been using G non-excessively for 6 months, although I had sometimes drunk it with alcohol. I intuitively thought this was a bad idea, but I was desperate, what else could I do?
And so I come to the plus and minus sides of G. The plus side is that I managed 2 months with no alcohol, and still to this day (it's April 29) I only use alcohol socially, meaning in pubs and clubs on average 2 to 3 nights a week. I never drink alone any more. It has to be said that this is a huge advantage of GBL, and one that I absolutely needed. However, there are also big downsides too. Early on in using G, I required about 1.8ml. This dose produced social lubrication and made me feel more sexual. Also as an intoxicant it lacks the hangover and extreme mental fogginess that pervades my mind when drinking to excess. As a high it enhanced my emotions in a positive way rather than just blotting them out. Also, there is still some remote sanity in our laws on GBL so it is legal here and it's therefore easy to obtain pure GBL over the internet. Obviously if it were not I would have to pay more for an unknown strength hit, and thus it would be more dangerous.
However there are downsides too. I have passed out in public occasionally - this is inevitable if you're using regularly. Now here we have the National Health Service. Britons love to moan about the service however I don't - because I have ended up in hospital due to alcohol quite a number of occasions and also once due to G. Ending up in hospital due to G is not something that worries me because the service is free, but I'm aware that doing this once in a place like the States could equal a huge hospital bill and so in other places this does actually matter. If you use G regularly when out it is very likely that this will happen to you as it could have happened to me other times as well. Also, I now require 2.3ml to experience any real effects, and that's on an empty stomach dose. I will also re-dose with half this dose after about an hour as it has a very short half life.
I use every day I'm not drinking, although I don't dose up constantly; if I have something to do or I need to go out I won't take any. I am concerned because I know that my required dose and frequency of dose are likely to continue to rise, but there again the alternative of constant drinking is so unappealing I choose to ignore this problem. Also my shoulder blades have become quite painful so for example, a deep breath hurts mildly. Also, I have broken stuff in my flat thanks to stumbling around on G, and I have also fallen asleep stood up and then fallen over and hit my head and elbows, and also woken up with unexplained bruises on my legs and arms after too much G.
In addition the effects of the G are not what they once were. 1.8ml used to be mild, relaxing and pleasant (to make a point about getting the dosage right, 2ml would equal face in dinner snoring). Now 2.3ml doesn't do all that much beyond remove the desire for alcohol whereas 2.5 makes me feel more messed up than relaxed and happy. 2.7 makes me feel very messed up in a way I don't enjoy (a bit like poppers do). Any more will knock me out. Also when I used to sleep on G, I would sleep for about 4 hours. Now if it's time for sleep anyway I will sleep for about 4 before taking more to get a full nights sleep. But if I find I don't need the sleep that much I'll only sleep for an hour and then need as much as 3ml to get another couple of hours. My flatmate has also got up for work in the morning and found me passed out in random places, but luckily he doesn't seem to mind me being a twat (he's probably used to seeing me drunk).
Overall I would say that if one has an addictive personality then maybe it's best to avoid G. I'm not really sure because I could easily go back to just drinking but I see that as a worse habit and so I just don't want to. On the other hand, if one has no addictions beforehand I could see G causing one. I have come to appreciate that it's not an alcohol addiction, or a G addiction that I have, but the symptoms of my mental illness that give me a predisposition to liking sedating intoxicants. I won't be trying any new ones though because, for example, I can see how something like heroin would destroy me and I can maintain myself with what I have. I am also engaging with the job centre these days and can see that by slowly re-introducing myself to people at large and working towards full time work I will one day be able to leave GBL behind. With alcohol, I would never have achieved this more positive state of thinking because when you are affected by problem drinking, both as the user and someone who knows one, it is a truly vicious and destructive habit. G is not.
COPYRIGHTS: All reports are copyright Erowid.
Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.