GHB: A Wave of Intoxications in Quebec


Mathilde Drolet-Plante

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, has made a huge comeback in the bars of Quebec City for a new generation of users for the past few months.

The Quebec City Police Service (SPVQ) is currently investigating a huge comeback of cases of GHB overdoses and intoxications in bars of Quebec City since this summer. The number of cases is still undetermined, but two cases of sexual assaults may be linked to GHB intoxications.

The GHB intoxications brought a lot of visits to the hospital in the last months. The hospitals of Quebec City have recorded 122 visits related to GHB overdoses and intoxications, both intentional and unintentional intoxications on people over 18 years old.

The GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) commonly known as the rapist’s drug is produced naturally in your body and acts as a depressant on the nervous system. This drug can be prescribed by doctors legally in Canada to treat sleep disorders, but it can also be illegally manufactured and sold on the black market.

It can be consumed in liquid form, which is colourless, odourless and tasteless, or in powdered and tablet form. It could be added to your drink easily without you realizing it. ‘’When you’re consuming alcohol, it is very important to keep an eye on the drink that you have in your hands to make sure that no one can put something in it,’’ said Sandra Dion, communications officer in the Public Security Communications Division at the Quebec City Police Service (SPVQ).

The consumption of GHB can lead to mental and physical effects or overdose.
The main physical effects are:
-Nausea and vomiting
-Loss of consciousness
-Difficulty to breathe

The main mental effects are:
-Happy with a sense of well-being
-Not inhibited

It is straightforward to make an overdose with GHB and here are some effects.
It can cause epileptic seizures, slow down the heart rate and even cause a coma.

Since 2017 in the bars of Quebec City, a password is used to help the potential victims of intoxications to be protected. An idea of the Alliance of Health Students in Quebec (ASEQ). At any time when someone will not feel safe, the person will be able to ask a bar employee to order an “Angelot”. The protocol will be displayed in the women’s bathroom and at the entrance of bars. If the victim orders an “Angelot
without ice”, a staff member will bring the person to a safe place in the bar and the victim will decide to leave or to stay at the bar. If the victim orders an “Angelot with ice”, the bar will commit to helping the person to leave the bar in security and call a taxi if necessary. If the victim orders an “Angelot with lime”, it means that there is ongoing aggression or suspected intoxication and the police will be contacted.