How Long Does GHB Stay In Your System, Anyway?

Last updated: May 1, 2017

Quick facts about how long GHB says in your system:

  • The elimination half-life of GHB is 27 minutes
  • GHB can be detected in urine 12-24 hours after ingestion.
  • Most of the drug is excreted a few hours post-ingestion
  • GHB can't be detected in plasma or blood after 6-8 hours.

Note that the half-life (T1/2) of GHB depends on the dose. Larger doses decrease the rate of elimination. This occurs because GHB exhibits zero-order elimination kinetics1. The enzymes that metabolize GHB become saturated, creating a bottleneck.

Chemical Structure of GHB

Chemically speaking GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is a pretty simple compound. It’s got a carboxylic acid functional group on one end an alcohol moiety on the other, separated by some methylene groups (the carbon backbone).

It also has some unusual properties, as far as drugs go. It has a receptor named after it, the GHB receptor. (Guess which ligand binds to the GHB receptor, hermione granger?)

It’s used to treat treat narcolepsy (why would narcoleptics need a sleep aid? – Cataplexy, that’s why).

GHB also enhances slow wave sleep (SWS) and promotes human growth hormone (HGH) release at night, which is beneficial for many organ systems. It’s also probably neurotoxic, depending on dose and a smorgasbord of other factors.

How Long Does GHB Stay In Your System?

GHB has a short half-life and is therefore said to have a “rapid pharmacokinetic profile.”

The half-life of GHB clocks in at a whopping 27 minutes. GHB is like the premature ejaculator of CNS depressants; it’s over just when you were getting into it.

The half-life of a drug refers to the amount of time it takes for a drugs concentration in plasma to be reduced by 50%. Given GHB’s 27 minute half life, we obtain the following:

Time After Dosimg (minutes) Percent GHB remaining
0 100%
27 min 50%
54 min 25%
81 min 12.5%
108 min 6.25%

So how long does GHB stay in your system? It’s cleared pretty quickly, and less 5% of the original amount will remain after 2 hours. Hence, GHB is cleared pretty quickly.

GHB is not tested for in standard or even extended drug tests. However, it is possible to specifically test for GHB in urine.  The detection period in urine is 12-24 hours.

GHB Pharmacokinetics

In case the above discussion about how long GHB stays in your system didn’t bore you enough, here’s GHB’s actual pharmacokinetic profile.

how long does GHB stay in your system - pharmacokinetics


  1. Jones AW, Eklund A et al. Concentration-time profiles of gamma-hydroxybutyrate in blood after recreational doses are best described by zero-order rather than first-order kinetics. J Anal Toxicol. 2009 Jul-Aug;33(6):332-5

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Xavier Kent

I'm interested in nutrition, nootropics, and javascript. I'm a firm believer in getting really good at one thing.


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