CENTRAL Victorians are being warned to take the risks posed by GHB seriously, as statewide data indicates a rise in the drug's use.
Bendigo Community Health Services on Tuesday advised the community to stay vigilant during the festive season.
It came following a training session for practitioners working in the alcohol and other drugs sector, which highlighted GHB's prominence.
A study found GHB-related ambulance attendances in Victoria rose by 147 per cent between 2012 and 2019.
Bendigo Community Health Services mobile drug safety worker Paul Morgan estimated the number of call-outs in the Bendigo region at about one a week, based on that data.
"A GHB overdose will mean hospital treatment and withdrawal from this drug can lead to seizures and even death," Mr Morgan said.
"People must be aware it only takes two weeks of use for you to become dependent on this drug.
"The risk is even greater now, with the festive season traditionally the busiest time for celebrations and increased partying."
People mixing alcohol with GHB were up to 30 times more likely to need help from emergency services than those who weren't using any substance at all.
Mr Morgan encouraged anyone using the drug to seek help or take safety precautions if they had no intention of stopping.
"If someone you're with passes out from using GHB place them on their side and call 000 straight away," he advised
Mr Morgan said data wasn't the only indication of the drug's increased use in Victoria, with a representative from a regional public hospital telling attendees at the training session they were seeing "quite a lot" of GHB-related presentations in the emergency department.
Mr Morgan said the accessibility and affordability of the drug were contributing to its increased use.
"I think it is of concern," he said.
"This substance is currently very available and has some serious health risks for people who use it, and they need to be aware of those risks before they use it."
Bendigo Health had not noticed an increase in GHB-related presentations to its emergency department, a spokesperson told the Bendigo Advertiser.
Bendigo Community Health Services also hadn't reported an increase in people seeking help for alcohol and other drugs issues related to GHB.
Mr Morgan was confident the organisation had the capacity to respond, should its warning prompt an increase in calls for help.
"Our AOD team is there for you," he said.
GHB is a depressant and is toxic to the liver.
"The difference between being able to manage yourself and going into overdose is one drop," Mr Morgan said.
His safety advice for those who did not intend to stop using the drug included never drinking the GHB from the bottle.
"Only use clean equipment from your local Needle Syringe Program or pharmacy," Mr Morgan said.
"Mark your 'barrel' with tape so you don't use too much and write the amount and time on your arm in case of overdose.
"Drink plenty of water and do not use GHB again for at least two to three hours to reduce the risk of overdose."
He encouraged people with concerns or questions around alcohol and other drugs to call Bendigo Community Health Services on 5406 1200, or to visit bchs.com.au