Sexual Assault and Dating Violence
Date Rape Drugs
Table of Contents:
GHB, rohypnol and ketamine have become known as “date rape drugs” or “predatory drugs” because they are used to incapacitate someone for the purposes of committing a crime, often sexual assault. These drugs are odorless and colorless and can easily be slipped into someone’s drink. They can cause dizziness, disorientation, loss of inhibition and a loss of consciousness. They can also produce amnesia, causing a victim to be unclear of what, if any, crime was committed. These drugs are particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol, although alcohol alone is still the drug most commonly associated with sexual assault. Read on for more specific information about date rape drugs.
When people hear the phrase “date rape drug,” alcohol isn’t usually what comes to mind. But, as these statistics show, the link between alcohol and campus sexual assaults is evident:
- 55% of female students and 75% of male students involved in acquaintance rape admit to having been drinking or using drugs when the incident occurred.
- 90% of all campus rapes occur when alcohol has been used by either the assailant or the victim.
- As many as 70% of college students admit to having engaged in sexual activity primarily as a result of being under the influence of alcohol, or to having sex they wouldn’t have had if they had been sober.
(Adapted from Facts on Tap, “Risky Relationships”)
Understanding the effects of alcohol on your body, limiting your alcohol consumption and avoiding drinking games are some of the ways you can decrease the risk of sexual assault.
GHB stands for gamma hydroxybutyrate, a central nervous system sedative often referred to by other names such as “Grievous Bodily Harm” and “Liquid Ecstasy.” GHB can produce drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness, seizures, severe respiratory depression, and coma. Overdose of GHB can occur quickly and can be fatal.
Rohypnol is a brand name for a powerful sedative that is often referred to as “roofies.” Rohypnol is not legally available for prescription in the US and so just having it in your possession signals intent to commit a crime. Rohypnol may cause users to feel intoxicated; they may have slurred speech, impaired judgment, and difficulty walking. The effects are often felt within 10 minutes and can last up to 8 hours. Rohypnol can cause deep sedation, respiratory distress, and blackouts that can last up to 24 hours.
Ketamine is an injectable anesthetic that is intended for veterinary use. It is also known as Special K, K, Vitamin K or Cat Valiums. At high doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Low-dose intoxication from ketamine results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory.
To protect yourself from date rape drugs, follow these suggestions:
- Don’t put your drink down. If your drink is out of sight, even for a few minutes, don’t finish it. Get yourself a new one.
- Don’t accept an open drink from anyone. If you order a drink in a bar, make sure you watch the bartender open the bottle or mix your drink.
- Avoid punch bowls. You don’t know what’s in the punch.
If you feel any of the symptoms of a date rape drug, get help immediately. Call 911. Ask for a urine-screening test. Though traces of the drug may still appear up to 72 hours after ingestion (depending on dosage, and individual metabolism) the chances of getting proof are best when the sample is obtained quickly.