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The use of chlordiazepoxide for outpatient gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) detoxification: An observational study

Green pills spilling on the table


Alfred Balston, Kuljit Hunjan, and Michael J Kelleher


April 6th, 2023


Various detoxification regimens are used for gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), including diazepam, barbiturates, baclofen and GHB itself. However, these regimens are primarily derived from inpatient units, and literature on outpatient GBL detoxification is sparse with no previous reports on chlordiazepoxide. We describe the characteristics of outpatient GBL detoxification using chlordiazepoxide.


Observational study of all patients who attended a community outpatient addiction service in South London between August 2015 and November 2017 seeking detoxification from GBL. The outpatient caseload is predominantly patients with alcohol, opioid and stimulant dependence. Routine clinical data including patient demographics, GBL usage, daily chlordiazepoxide dose and Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol-revised (CIWA-Ar) score were recorded.


In the study period there were 17 attendances for GBL detoxification, 14 of which were undertaken in the outpatient setting. Twelve (86%) patients who had an outpatient detoxification were male, all of whom were men who have sex with men. Of 14 outpatient GBL detoxifications managed with chlordiazepoxide, 10 were successfully completed. One of the four patients that did not complete detoxification required inpatient treatment in an acute hospital. The average successful detoxification took 10 ± 3.1 days. For patients who completed a detoxification, the median maximum CIWA-Ar score on day one of the detoxification was 11 (range 2–17), with the mean dose of chlordiazepoxide used on day one being 140 mg (range 80–225 mg).


Chlordiazepoxide can be used for outpatient GBL detoxification in combination with a provision for crisis admission to hospital. CIWA-Ar score can be applied to GBL withdrawal to measure severity and inform a reducing regimen of chlordiazepoxide.


This research was published in the Drug Science, Policy and Law Journal the definitive source of evidence-based information and comment for academics, scientists, policymakers, frontline workers and the general public on drugs and related issues.

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