Date rape drugs: Symptoms of intoxication and prevention tips

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    Date rape drugs are to blame for half of rapes

    While not all sexual assaults involve date rape drugs, almost 50 percent of date rapes use chemical restraint. (Shutterstock)

     

    Twenty years ago if you heard the words “date rape drugs,” you most likely thought of Rohypnol, a sedative that was made in the early 1970s, known better by its street name of “roofies.” And while it’s true that Rohypnol coined the phrase “the date rape drug,” the truth is that many different sedatives can and are being used in sexual assaults today.

    More than 200,000 women in the United States are sexually assaulted annually according to the RAINN organization, though the number is likely higher since only slightly more than half of assaults are reported.

    While not all of those attacks are considered date rapes or use chemical restraint to accomplish the deed, a report from Kansas State University indicates approximately half of date rapes involved some form of chemical influence.

    Date rape drugs

    What are the most common date rape drugs?

    You may not think of it right away, but most of us have been exposed to the most common date rape drug: alcohol. In fact, alcohol is considered the number one date rape drug on college campuses.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers alcohol among date rape drugs because it fits the definition of “any drug that can affect judgment and behavior,” and “can put a person at risk for unwanted or risky sexual activity.”

    Not only does alcohol impair judgment, it makes it difficult for an individual to tell when a situation has become dangerous. Those under the influence also are less able to fight back if an attack occurs and sometimes blackout completely.

    Alcohol is frequently used in combination with “ecstacy” (MDMA), which is undetectable when slipped into someone’s beverage. MDMA will make an individual feel “lovey-dovey” toward others and less likely to decline sexual advances. Sex under the influence of these chemicals is still considered rape because it is the drug influencing the person’s decision.

    Other date rape drugs

    Date rape drugs are often mixed with alcohol

    Date rape drugs can be mixed in drinks without any change of flavor or color. (Shutterstock)

    Rohypnol: Brown University indicates Rohypnol, “roofies” is no longer available in the United States by prescription, and just possession of the drug is a criminal offense. The effects of roofies are felt as quickly as 10 minutes after administration, more typically within 30, mimicking the early symptoms of intoxication. Symptoms can last for up to 8 hours, and it is not uncommon for people given roofies to black out completely with no recollection of events upon waking.

    Symptoms of intoxication include muscle relaxation or loss of control, feeling drunk even when you haven’t drank much, slurred speech, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and stomach problems. Post-intoxication symptoms include memory loss and confusion. This date rape drug can cause death.

    GHB: Gamma hydroxybutyrate, GHB, is often referred to as “Liquid Ecstasy.” It is a central nervous system sedative which takes effect in about 15 minutes. Small doses have high potency and effects can last for up to 4 hours. Individuals given GHB can black out, have seizures, lose memories, end up in a coma and can even die.

    Symptoms of intoxication include sudden relaxation, nausea, dizziness, seizures, tremors, sweating, vomiting, fainting and slow heart rate. Post-intoxication symptoms include memory loss, confusion and drowsiness.

    Ketamine: Ketamine is a common sedative used in hospitals around the country. It is considered part of a standard anesthetic protocol within veterinary practice. When used in humans at high dosages, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, depressed respiration, and impaired motor function. Even at low dosages, ketamine can cause memory loss. Ketamine is known by the street names of “Special K,” “K,” “Vitamin K,” or “Cat Valiums.”

    Symptoms of intoxication include impaired motor function, vomiting, altered perception (lights and sounds feel different), breathing difficulty, numbness of limbs, sudden aggressive reactions and slurred speech. Post-intoxication symptoms include memory loss, depression and temporary loss of coordination.


     

    Protect yourself against date rape drugs

    Every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States, and most of those victims are under the age of 30. Learning how to decrease date rape risk is critical to protecting yourself against abusers.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates date rape risk reduction means:

    • Never set your drink down. If your drink is out of sight for even a few moments, get a new one. This does not only apply to bars or parties, or alcoholic drinks. Beware of who handles your drink during concerts, sports events, group activities.
    • Never accept a drink from someone else — not even water.
    • If you order a drink from the bartender, watch it be mixed.
    • Avoid public drinks like punch bowls.
    • Always drink alcohol in moderation, even around family and friends. More than two-thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
    • Ask your friends to keep an eye on you in case they notice you are acting different or are in an at-risk situation.

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