10/27/2014 06:58 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST

GHB blamed for collapse of 3 partiers in North Vancouver

Police on the North Shore say three people who took a street drug before going out last weekend could easily have died if it weren't for the rapid, expert medical help that they received.

North Vancouver RCMP Cpl. Richard De Jong said that two women and one man intentionally took what they thought was GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, before going out for drinks Saturday night.

Police became involved when a call came in from a bar, reporting that a woman had collapsed in the washroom.

"By the time our emergency personnel arrived on scene, two more people were in medical distress after having consumed what is allegedly GHB," De Jong said.

The three were rushed to Lions Gate Hospital, where they received emergency treatment that included ventilation, to assist their breathing.

"One of them actually stopped breathing altogether," he said.

The three recovered, and were released from hospital the next day.

"At this point there is no criminal investigation," De Jong said.

However, police are investigating the source of the drug and taking the opportunity to warn the public that GHB is particularly risky to take.

GHB, a powerful, rapidly acting central nervous system depressant, has also been known as the date rape drug.

"It has an alcohol-like effect," De Jong said. "In essence, someone could pass out in any circumstance in any location and without medical care, people have been known to actually die from ingesting GHB."

Even though the three people who took it Saturday did so intentionally, things might have gone differently if they passed out somewhere else, he said.

"They survived because they received quick medical care," he said. "The dangers are very real in taking a drug like GHB."

De Jong said anyone who suspects that they themselves or someone with them ingested GHB should go to a medical facility and should also call police.

"Sometimes amnesia develops as a result of taking this drug, so you never know what you've just experienced," he said.