WHAT ARE "DATE RAPE DRUGS"?
"Date rape drugs" are substances used to increase the
vulnerability of potential victims and decrease victims' ability
to protect themselves. In the criminal justice community,
assaults committed using these drugs are known as
"drug-facilitated rapes". Many kinds of substances
have been used as date rape drugs-- everything from prescription
drugs, illegal street drugs (including so-called "club drugs"),
veterinary drugs, and alcoholic beverages. These substances
can act in various ways, making victims confused, disoriented,
helpless, unconscious, or even comatose. In a number of
documented cases, the use of date rape drugs has ultimately
resulted in death.
Three of the most commonly discussed date rape
drugs are Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate),
and Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride). Rohypnol, nicknamed roofies, roaches, or “the forget pill”, is a
powerful benzodiazepine drug 10 to 20 times stronger than Valium.
Manufactured by Hoffman-LaRoche Company, a Swiss-based
pharmaceutical producer and distributor, Rohypnol is widely used
in Europe and Central and South America as a treatment for severe
sleep disorders. Rohypnol cannot be legally distributed or
possessed in the United States; however, illegal trafficking in
Rohypnol tablets occurs nationwide. GHB (also known by street
names such as Liquid E, Liquid Ecstasy, Ever Clear, Scoop, Cherry
Meth, Georgia Homeboy, Gamma 10, and Grievous Bodily Harm) can be
produced in the form of a white powder, but it is more commonly
encountered as an odorless, clear liquid. It is particularly
dangerous because it is often given to victims in random,
unmeasured doses (quickly squeezed into an unattended drink, for
example). Ketamine, a veterinary tranquilizer
and controlled substance, is another increasingly common date rape
drug. When ingested by humans it is extremely
dangerous/potentially lethal, and can result in hallucinations,
paranoia, sensory distortions, and paralysis. Street names
for ketamine include Special K, Vitamin K, Kit Kat, Ket, Cat
Valium, and Blind Squid.
What is the #1 date rape
Across America, alcohol is by
far the most common date rape drug. Although most of us
are aware of dramatic media reports concerning GHB, Rohypnol, and
other drugs, many people fail to realize that they are perhaps
hundreds of times more likely to be victimized when under the
influence of alcohol. Why? Because alcohol is readily
available, and because it decreases your ability to think clearly,
make good judgments, and protect yourself.
How can I
tell if I may have been drugged?
Mixed with soft drinks, alcohol, or other beverages, a
2 mg tablet of Rohypnol or small amount of liquid or powder GHB
can begin to affect the user within 15 minutes to one hour.
Common effects of date rape drugs include:
a drunken appearance
deep unresponsive sleep
respiratory and circulatory impairment
and amnesia (memory loss of up to 24 hours).
When administered in combination with
alcohol, narcotics, or other central nervous system depressants,
date rape drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB can cause seizures,
cardiac and respiratory arrest, coma, or death.
In social situations, you should be concerned
if you begin to feel confused, ill, or extremely intoxicated.
Realize that a rapist who relies upon these drugs may offer to
help when you begin to feel ill. Instead of leaving with a
potential assailant, call 911 or ask a bartender or hotel clerk to
call for emergency medical assistance. If you suspect that you or
a friend may have been drugged, please realize how dangerous these
drugs are and seek help immediately.
What to Do if You Suspect
You've Been Drugged and Sexually Assaulted
Remember, date rape drugs can
cause serious medical problems with little warning, including
seizures, cardiac and respiratory arrest, coma, and even death.
1. If you
think that you or a friend MAY have been given a date rape drug,
you are facing a potential medical emergency. Please go to your
emergency department immediately for a medical
evaluation. By acting quickly, you may save a life.
2. Trust Yourself.
It is hard to know what to do when you
aren't sure what happened. But if your instincts tell you
something is wrong, seek help. Don't delay.
if a crime did occur, it is important to preserve the evidence.
You may not choose to press charges, but preserving evidence
helps to keep your options open. If possible, don't
shower, douche, change clothes, brush your teeth, eat,
drink, or use the restroom. Go directly
to your local emergency room. Some "date rape drugs"
can only be detected in urine for about 12 hours after
ingestion, while others can be detected for up to 72
hours. The sooner you get to the hospital, the more
likely the drug will be found in your system.
Can I prove
that I was drugged? What are the penalties for using date rape
Although date rape drugs may make a rape
victim unable to remember the assault, a wide variety of evidence
is available which can lead to arrest and conviction.
If possible, victims should not change their
clothing, eat, drink, bathe, or use the restroom until they have been examined in a
hospital emergency department. Many date rape drugs are
only detectable in the body for a few hours; for this reason, it
is absolutely vital that you go to the emergency department of
your local hospital ASAP if you think you or a friend may have
been drugged. If possible, you should keep a sample of the
beverage or the cup it was served in for analysis. A medical
examination and consultation with law enforcement will help you to
understand the legal options available in your unique situation.
Bottom line: it is against the law to have
sexual intercourse with a person who has been drugged or is
heavily intoxicated. Sexual assailants who possess, manufacture,
or use date rape drugs to subdue their victims risk adding up to
20 years to their prison sentences. Possession of Rohypnol with
no proven intent to use it in the commission of a violent crime
carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. Remember:
if you want to press charges against an assailant, you must report
the crime to law enforcement officials in the jurisdiction where
the crime occurred.
How can I reduce the risk of drug-facilitated rape?
leave your beverage unattended. If you need to leave your drink
for any reason (getting up to dance, use the restroom, etc.), plan
to finish it first or order a fresh drink when you return.
At a bar or club, accept drinks only from the
bartender, waiter, or waitress.
At parties, do not accept open container drinks from
Do not take any beverage, including soft
drinks or alcohol, from someone you do not know well and trust.
Don’t be too quick to trust casual acquaintances. A friendly
appearance can be deceiving; in fact, it may be a tool used by
criminals to gain your trust. Remember, at least 80% of
all rapes are committed by acquaintances.
Use the buddy system and be alert to the behavior of
your friends. Anyone who appears to be seriously intoxicated may
be in danger. Realize that rape is a crime of opportunity in
which the assailant is looking for a vulnerable victim (one who is
drugged, drunk, separated from friends, overly trusting, etc.).
Do not allow anyone to take a person who appears to be intoxicated
to an isolated area. If you believe that a friend may have
been drugged, get medical attention immediately by going directly
to the hospital, or by calling 911. Don't allow
embarrassment (or concerns about underage drinking) to keep you
from seeking help. And if possible, preserve the glass that
your friend drank from-- it may be important evidence of a crime.
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