Just days after the Government made the controversial decision to classify GBL as a Class C drug, these shocking pictures are a stark reminder of the devastating effects of the legal party drug.
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Mikaila Tyhurst was an attractive 18-year-old when she started taking GBL. She dreamed of being an air stewardess.
Now 22 but appearing much older than her years, she has lost her looks and her health after becoming an addict.
Her front teeth were knocked out in a drug-induced fall, she has severe liver damage and three months ago she nearly died of an overdose.
Mikaila, from Crumpsall, Manchester, has been admitted to hospital dozens of times, often unconscious, after drinking GBL (Gamma butyrolactone).
The drug - similar to the date rape drug GHB is currently legal in this country although it is set to be banned before the end of the year. It is readily available online, at specialist shops, and in beauty products.
The Government plans to make GBL a Class C when meant for human consumption drug by the end of the year, a lower classification than cannabis and ecstasy.
As the government this week launched a £200,000 publicity campaign about the dangers of GBL aimed at university students, Mikaila spoke of her addiction.
She said: 'It has destroyed my life. I hope that by talking about what it has done to me it might stop someone else from trying it.
'When I look at this picture of myself at my 18th birthday party I feel sick at how much I have changed, it makes me really sad.'
Today she starts an inpatient detox programme to wean her off the drug and help her build a stable life.
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But after several previous attempts to stop taking the drug, she knows that it will be tough.
She said: 'I am trying really hard to stop taking it but it is very hard, it is very addictive. I don't want to take it but when I stop I feel so sick.
'When I go to hospital they don't really understand what GBL is, staff there don't seem to understand it. '
'I am really excited about starting detox, I am going to make sure it works. I know this is my last chance.'
Mikaila was introduced to GBL when she was 18 and the addiction wrecked all her plans for the future.
Over a period of two years she took GBL almost every day.
Her hospital notes show she has been repeatedly admitted to A&E at North Manchester General, often brought in by ambulance.
She is often unconscious, has been found collapsed or is suffering fits, and medics have reported a series of bumps and bruises including serious head injuries.
Mikaila was admitted to intensive care for 11 days in June after collapsing and was diagnosed with liver failure and needed a series of blood transfusions.
She had previously attended A&E in May when she was vomiting blood, in March after suffering a fit, and she was taken in by ambulance in February after collapsing.
Her records also show a series of admissions during 2008.
Dr David Fitton, a GP who works at Mikaila's local health centre, referred her for help with her addiction in July this year.
After her inpatient detox programme she has been given a place at a 'dry' hostel and hopes this will be the first step in rebuilding her life.
Campaigner Maryon Stewart, whose daughter Hester, 21, a medical student from Brighton died after taking GBL for the first time, is calling for the government to classify it as a class A drug along with heroin and ecstasy, so users would face even tougher penalties.
Mrs Stewart, a leading nutritionist, said she felt 'cheated, frustrated and angry' that the Home Office had hesitated on a promise last year to ban GBL, despite it being illegal in several other countries.
Mrs Stewart said: 'I think GBL is every bit as dangerous as heroin and ecstasy, if not more so. Because it's lethal when combined with alcohol, it should be a class A drug.'
Mikaila is backing Mrs Stewart and also appealing for products which contain GBL -including some beauty products - to be withdrawn from supermarkets and high street stores.
She said: 'I have tried to contact the people who make and sell these products but they are not listening.
'This drug is so dangerous it should be given the highest possible rating.'
Home Secretary Alan Johnson launched the government's GBL campaign, aimed mainly at the student clubbing community.
The campaign will be carried on posters, leaflets and postcards in clubs, bars and record shops and also promoted online and at events organised by the National Union of Students and the music magazine Mixmag.
Mr Johnson said: 'There is sometimes a misconception that because a substance is legal it is safe to consume. That is not the case; they are dangerous chemicals.
'Through this campaign we want to educate young people who might be tempted to experiment with 'legal highs' that they don't know what they are taking and these substances can have devastating effects, particularly when mixed with alcohol.'
The government is in the process of banning three substances that give legal highs - GBL; the cannabis substitute 'spice'; and the amphetamine alternative BZP.
The drugs are sold in 'head shops' - specialising in drug culture paraphernalia - and online. Chemically some are similar in composition to the illegal drugs they replicate.
GBL is closely related to the notorious dance drug GBH - but it is still legal and can kill.
Gamma-butyrolactone is a dangerous drug with sedative and anaesthetic effects. And yet it is sold openly as a 'party drug' and can be found easily on the internet.
GBL converts to GHB shortly after entering the body and is said to be particularly dangerous when used with alcohol and other depressant or sedative substances including recreational drugs.
GHB is now a Class C drug - illegal to have, give away or sell. But GBL is a still a legal product.
It comes as a colourless, oily liquid with a weak odour and is a common solvent used in industrial products like paint strippers and stain removers, and even nail varnish remover.
When ingested - usually mixed with a drink - it is said to give a legal high not unlike ecstasy.
By Daily Mail Reporter
September 24, 2009
The young woman ravaged by GBL - the legal party drug the Government won't ban