Health Encyclopedia > Medications

sodium oxybate

Pronunciation: SO dee um OX i bate

Brand: Xyrem

What is the most important information I should know about sodium oxybate?

Never take more than your prescribed dose of sodium oxybate. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well.

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Sodium oxybate is also known as GHB, a known street drug of abuse. Never share sodium oxybate with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

Sodium oxybate works very fast and should be taken while you are sitting in bed ready for sleep.

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Sodium oxybate will cause drowsiness and can impair your thinking or reactions. You may still feel sleepy the morning after taking this medicine. Wait at least 6 hours or until you are fully awake before you drive, operate machinery, pilot an airplane, or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Multum donot

Do not take other medicines that make you sleepy or slow your breathing (such as alcohol, cold medicine, pain medication, muscle relaxants, and medicine for depression or anxiety).

What is sodium oxybate?

Sodium oxybate is a central nervous system depressant. It is used to treat cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle strength) and reduce daytime sleepiness in patients with narcolepsy.

Sodium oxybate may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking sodium oxybate?

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Do not take sodium oxybate if you:

  • are taking another medication that causes drowsiness; or
  • have a rare metabolic disorder called succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency.

To make sure sodium oxybate is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a breathing disorder such as asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis;
  • snoring, or sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep);
  • liver disease;
  • heart disease, high blood pressure, or kidney disease;
  • a history of alcohol or drug abuse;
  • a history of depression or suicidal thoughts;
  • mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia; or
  • if you are on a low-salt diet.
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Sodium oxybate may be habit forming. Never share sodium oxybate with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

It is dangerous to try and purchase sodium oxybate on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. The sale and distribution of sodium oxybate outside of the U.S. does not comply with the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the safe use of this medication.

FDA pregnancy category B. Sodium oxybate is not expected to harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Multum nobrfeed

It is not known whether sodium oxybate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Multum nochild

Do not give this medication to anyone under 18 years old without medical advice.

How should I take sodium oxybate?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Multum donot

Never take more than your prescribed dose of sodium oxybate. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your symptoms.

This medication comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Do not allow anyone else to use your medication.

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Take sodium oxybate on an empty stomach several hours after a meal. It is important to take sodium oxybate at the same time each night.

Sodium oxybate must be taken at bedtime and again two and a half to four hours later. This medicine works very fast and should be taken while you are sitting in bed ready for sleep. Prepare both doses while you are getting ready for bed, so that you will not have to get up to prepare the second dose. Place the second dose next to your bed so you can take it without getting up. You will most likely need to set an alarm to awaken for the second dose.

Each dose of sodium oxybate must be mixed with two ounces (one quarter cup) of water in the child-resistant dosing cups provided with the medication. Both doses must be used within the same night. Throw away any sodium oxybate dose that has been mixed with water but not used within 24 hours of mixing.

You may need to be on a low-salt diet while you are using sodium oxybate, especially if you have high blood pressure, kidney disease, or heart disease.

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Sodium oxybate is also known as GHB, a known street drug of abuse. Because of the potential for abuse and the serious side effects that may occur, sodium oxybate is available only through a special program. Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of using sodium oxybate, and the medication will be delivered to you from a central pharmacy.

Do not stop using sodium oxybate suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using sodium oxybate.

Your doctor will need to check your progress every 3 months. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.

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Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Keep track of the amount of medicine used from each new bottle. Sodium oxybate is a drug of abuse and you should be aware if anyone is using your medicine improperly or without a prescription.

After you have stopped using sodium oxybate, flush any unused medicine down the toilet.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember, but only at bedtime or during your normal sleeping hours. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

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Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of sodium oxybate can be fatal.

What should I avoid while taking sodium oxybate?

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Do not drink alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death can occur when alcohol is combined with sodium oxybate. Check your food and medicine labels to be sure these products do not contain alcohol.

Sodium oxybate must not be taken with other drugs that are used for sleep or sedation.

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Sodium oxybate will cause drowsiness and can impair your thinking or reactions. You may still feel sleepy the morning after taking this medicine. Wait at least 6 hours or until you are fully awake before you drive, operate machinery, pilot an airplane, or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

What are the possible side effects of sodium oxybate?

Multum emt

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Multum calldoc

Stop using sodium oxybate and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things), severe confusion;
  • depression, agitation, unusual or unpleasant thoughts;
  • suicidal thoughts or actions;
  • shallow breathing;
  • bed-wetting;
  • sleepwalking; or
  • waking and confused behavior at night.

Common side effects may include:

  • dizziness;
  • nausea, vomiting; or
  • diarrhea.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect sodium oxybate?

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Do not take sodium oxybate with other medicines that make you sleepy or slow your breathing. Ask your doctor before taking sodium oxybate with a cold medicine, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Other drugs may interact with sodium oxybate, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about sodium oxybate.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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