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Date Rape Drugs & Prevention

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Date Rape Drugs Text Graphic

Date Rape drugs have a new kind of rape threat and have reared its ugly head at parties, campuses, and nightclubs. Learn what they are, how dangerous they are, and how to prevent them from being used on you or someone you love.

Nearly eleven million women in the United States have been raped while drunk, drugged, or high. If you’ve been assaulted, it is never your fault. No matter how much you drank or what drugs you took, rape, or sexual assault, it is never your fault. It’s normal to go through a range of emotions if this happens to you. Talk to someone you trust or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) at any time, day or night.

What Are Date Rape Drugs?

Technically speaking, any substance that renders you incapable of saying no or asserting yourself and your needs can be used to commit rape. This can include alcohol, marijuana, street drugs, designer or club drugs like ecstasy, over-the-counter sleeping pills, antihistamines, and even cold medications. However, the term "date rape drug" usually applies to Rohypnol, Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB), and Ketamine Hydrochloride.

Common Scenario

The perpetrator slips a drug in someone's glass, waits for the effects to kick in, and offers to assist the victim by "taking them home." Once passed out, the offender takes advantage of the unconscious individual. GHB and Rohypnol were initially classified as medications, specifically the central nervous system depressants. Doctors prescribed them as sleep aids and relaxants in very low dosages.

These drugs are known to have virtually ten times the effect of Valium®, another prescribed depressant, and they are extremely potent. Mixed with alcohol, a small dose of GHB or Rohypnol will not only cause unconsciousness for hours but also temporarily take away your memory when you come to. As used in sexual assaults, date rape drugs can make you unconscious for up to 12 hours. Fifteen to 20 minutes after the drug is in your system, these reactions usually occur (alcohol intensifies the drug's effect): drowsiness, slurred speech, blurred vision, respiratory problems, dizziness.

What Makes Rohypnol and GHB So Dangerous?

They are virtually impossible to detect: They're tasteless. They're odorless. They come in liquid, powder, and pill form. They blend in drinks easily. They metabolize in your system within approximately 72 hours, making them difficult to detect if you go to the police after the assault.

Drug-facilitated rape is a crime that can put a violator away for 20 years and cost him a $250,000 fine, but if the victim does not remember the incident or doesn't go to the police in time, proving that a date rape drug was ingested becomes increasingly difficult.

Date Rape Drugs Prevention

If you do drink something, watch your drink like a hawk. Try to hold it at all times. Don't leave your drink unattended. Don't trust anyone with your drink. You should note that in some cases, even the bartender could be in on drugging someone. Always go with a buddy you can trust in case things go wrong. If you feel uncharacteristically dizzy and/or disoriented, get help immediately.

The original manufacturer of Rohypnol, Hoffman-LaRoche Inc., a pharmaceutical company, has taken extra measures to prevent this drug from being abused by making it easier to spot. The company increased its dissolving time to 45 minutes, made it form a chalky white film floating on the top of liquid, and caused it to turn drinks a blue color.

Regardless, old pills are still around for consumption, and many pharmaceutical companies that have produced a bootleg version of Rohypnol have not adopted the new precautions Hoffman-LaRoche has taken.

Date Rape Prevention Gadgets

There are coasters, cups, straws, nail polish and a smart device that are available to help detect date rape drugs.

Date Rape Drug Detection Nail Polish

In 2014 there was talk of a nail polish that would show if a drink was tainted with a date rape drug by simply dipping one's finger into the drink and having the nail polish color change to show if the drink was safe to consume. The name of the nail polish is Undercover Colors. The company also has a small chip device called SipChip that can detect the date rape drugs. Undercovercolors.com

Date Rape Drug Detection Coasters

Drink Safe in Technologies offers kits and coasters that can test your drink DrinkSafe.com. Other companies are trying to create straws, personal gadgets, and stir sticks but getting FDA approval can be challenging, and most fail before they even launch a product. The coasters are on the market because they did not require FDA approval as they do not come into contact with the drink; rather, they act as a separate test kit.

What If I Have Been Drugged?

  • Call a family member, friend, the police, a doctor, or 911 to help get you to a hospital.

  • Once you're at a safe place, you call a rape crisis center like RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE.

If you want to report the incident to the police, don't shower, bathe, douche, change clothes, or straighten up the area until the evidence can be collected. Go to a hospital, clinic, or private doctor to treat injuries, tests for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, and support services. Ask for a urine test as quickly as possible to detect the presence of sedating substances. Every hour counts to get the proof you need.

Rohypnol

Street Names
Rophy, Ruffles, Roofies, Ruffies, Ruff Up, Rib, Roach 2, R2, R2-Do-U, Roche, Rope, Ropies, Circles, Circes, Forget It, Forget-Me-pill, Mexican Valium.

What Are The Effects?
The most common effects include; disinhibition, amnesia, excitability, aggressive behavior, decreased blood pressure, memory impairment, drowsiness, visual disturbances, semi-consciousness, dizziness, confusion, stomach disturbances, and urinary retention.

How Quickly Does It Act?
It is quick-acting, with noticeable effects occurring within 20 minutes of ingestion. Alcohol makes the effects last longer, up to 36 hours. After ingestion, it can be found in the bloodstream for 24 hours and in urine samples for 48 hours.

What Does It Look Like?
The pills are small and white with a split-pill line on one side and the word "ROCHE" with the number 1 or 2 in a circle stamped on the other. They are quickly dissolved in liquid primarily when crushed first.

Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB)

Street Names
Easy Lay, EZ Lay, Liquid Ecstasy, Ellie, Clear X, Liquid X, X-rater, XTC, Chemical X, Liquid Dream, Scoop, Scoop Her, Get-Her-to-Bed.

How Quickly Does It Act?
GHB begins to take effect 10 - 15 minutes after ingestion. The effects last for 3 - 6 hours when taken without alcohol and 36 - 72 hours when mixed with alcohol or other drugs. In very high dosages, unconsciousness, or even coma, can occur within 5 minutes.

What Does It Look Like?
It looks exactly like water.

Ketamine Hydrochloride

Street Names
Special K, Super K, K, OK, KO, Vitamin K, Kid Rock, Ket Kat, Make-Her-Mine.

What are the effects?
The most common effects include; delirium, vivid hallucinations, cardiac excitement, mild respiratory depression, confusion, irrationality, violent or aggressive behavior, vertigo, ataxia, slurred speech, delayed reaction time, euphoria, thinking, altered body image, analgesia, amnesia, and coma.

How Quickly Does It Act?
This depends on how it is ingested. When taken orally or nasally, the effects take 10 - 20 minutes to be realized. When taken intravenously, the effects are instantaneous. The effects last less than 3 hours, and the drug is detectable in the system for up to 48 hours, depending on the method of ingestion. Since it is often mixed with other mind-altering drugs, like heroin and cocaine, many people do not even realize they have been given this substance.

What Does It Look Like?
In undiluted form, it looks like an off-white powder; in diluted form, it looks like slightly cloudy water.

Getting Out of Control

New research by the Australian Institute of Criminology has found up to 4,500 people in Australia had their drinks spiked in 2003, with about 40 percent of them sexually assaulted. "This is the first national study on drink spiking and first figures, but anecdotal evidence points to a rise in incidence," said institute spokeswoman Leanne Huddy, adding the full study was expected to be released by the government later this year.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the trend in Australia was fueled by an increase in the availability of prescription and illicit drugs, with up to 100 substances now believed used to spike drinks in what is deemed "drug-assisted sexual assaults."

Police in Australia have begun to launch television, print, and poster campaigns warning people to be on the alert for drink spikers. These campaigns are to raise public awareness and highlight the legal ramifications for anyone caught in the act.

The penalties for drink spiking in Australia vary from up to 25 years jail for using stupefying drugs to commit an indictable offense such as rape, to two years jail for administering or supplying a prohibited or controlled substance. Authorities in the state of Victoria are pushing ahead with legal changes to make drink spiking a serious crime after an accidental death from spiking.

The surge in drink spiking in Australia has mirrored similar trends in the United States and Britain, where on-the-spot tests are now sold to check drinks. In Australia, a matchbox sized kit called Drink Checker was launched this month with a dropper and testing pad to check for the most common date rate drugs; however there is a more accessible and less expensive way to keep your drink safe.

Hold it with your hand over it at all times. If you walk away from it, order a new one. Stay away from punch bowls, parties with gossip about the possibility of date drugs being present. Go with someone you trust so that you can keep an eye on one another for unusual behavior and make a pact not to leave without one another as well as to stay in sight of one another.

See our Sexual Harassment & Stalking as well as Sexual Assault & Rape Resources and Sexual Assault & Rape Resources

Also see Online Dating Scams

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