Characterization of the GHB withdrawal syndrome
Number of pages
SourceJournal of Clinical Medicine, 10, 11, (2021), article 2333
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
Journal of Clinical Medicine
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 3: Disorders of movement DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
The gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) withdrawal syndrome can have a fulminant course, complicated by severe complications such as delirium or seizures. Detoxification by tapering with pharmaceutical GHB is a safe way to manage GHB withdrawal. However, a detailed description of the course of the GHB withdrawal syndrome is currently lacking. This study aimed to (1) describe the course of GHB withdrawal symptoms over time, (2) assess the association between vital signs and withdrawal symptoms, and (3) explore sex differences in GHB withdrawal. In this observational multicenter study, patients with GHB use disorder (n = 285) were tapered off with pharmaceutical GHB. The most reported subjective withdrawal symptoms (SWS) were related to cravings, fatigue, insomnia, sweating and feeling gloomy. The most prevalent objective withdrawal symptoms (OWS) were related to cravings, fatigue, tremors, sweating, and sudden cold/warm feelings. No association between vital signs and SWS/OWS was found. Sex differences were observed in the severity and prevalence of specific withdrawal symptoms. Our results suggest that the GHB withdrawal syndrome under pharmaceutical GHB tapering does not strongly differ from withdrawal syndromes of other sedative drugs. The lack of association between vital signs and other withdrawal symptoms, and the relative stability of vitals over time suggest that vitals are not suitable for withdrawal monitoring. The reported sex differences highlight the importance of a personalized approach in GHB detoxification.
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