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Although not a new phenomenon, there is growing concern about the different types of “date-rape drugs” – those drugs used to facilitate a rape or sexually assault by sedating their victims and causing them to be incapacitated and unable to fight back. Among reported cases, the perpetrator most commonly laces an intended victim’s drink with the drug. Because most of these drugs dissolve quickly and can be produced as colorless, odorless, and tasteless – a victim can ingest it unknowingly. Within 10 – 20 minutes a victim can become ill, disoriented or very sleepy and unable to move or think clearly. If the drink that was laced contained alcohol then the drugs effects can be intensified. The effects can last anywhere from 2-24 hours and can leave the victim incapable of remembering what happened.

Rapists are using these drugs as a way to overpower their victims. Unfortunately, date-rape drugs are easily accessible, maybe be legal to use for other reasons, and therefore readily available and inexpensive. Although Rohypnol is illegal in the U.S., and GHB is FDA-approved only for physician supervised protocols, both are made and sold legally in other countries.

TYPES OF DATE-RAPE DRUGS

  1. Rohypnol (Roofies, Ruffies, Roopies, Rope, Ropies, R2, Roach-2, Ruffles, Roche (pronounced "row-shay"), Rochies, the Forget Pill, La Roche, Rib, Mexican Valium): was made with the intent to curb severe sleep disorders. This strong tranquilizer causes extreme sleepiness/sedation, memory impairment/amnesia, problems talking/slurred speech, muscle relaxation, dizziness, motor in-coordination, impaired judgment, loss of inhibitions, loss of consciousness, visual disturbances, nausea, and excitability and/or aggressive behavior in some users. It is fast acting; effects occur after about 10-20 minutes, peak within 1-2 hours and last 2-10 hours. However, the effects may persist for 24 hours if it is used at higher doses and when combined with other drugs. The availability of Rohypnol has become more wide spread since its recipe has recently been made available on the Internet.

    IDENTIFICATION: Rohypnol is a pill that dissolves in liquids without odor, taste and color. New pills have color and turn blue when added to liquids. However, the old colorless pills are still available. It resembles round white aspirin tablets, but is slightly smaller than aspirin. The name "Roche" is on one side of the tablet along with an encircled "1" or "2” and the reverse side is marked with either a cross or single horizontal groove. The tablets are often delivered in bubble packaging. It commonly sells for approximately $5 a tablet. Rohypnol and other benzodiazepines, as well as for marijuana, cocaine, some opiates and barbiturates can be identified through a urine test. It can be found in urine for up to 72 hours after ingestion.

    In the U.S. Rohypnol is most commonly used in places where the drug can be brought over the border easily and smuggled to consumers through postal and delivery services, or by individuals such as Florida, Texas, and other southern states. However, there have been reports from students in Wisconsin who state that Rohypnol is available on their campuses.

    DETAILS: "Rohypnol" is the brand name for the drug flunitrazepam that is manufactured by a large Pharmaceutical company (Hoffmann –La Roche). It is a central nervous system depressant, belonging to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which include widely used medications such a Valium, Librium and Xanex. Rohypnol effects are approximately 10 times greater than the effects of Valium. Rohypnol is currently a Schedule IV drug under the Federal Controlled Substance Act of 1970 with Schedule I penalties for illegal possession, importation, or distribution in the United States.

  2. Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB, Liquid Extacy/Ecstacy, Liquid X, Scoop, Easy Lay, Gamma-OH, Grievous Bodily Harm, Georgia Home Boy, Goop) is FDA-approved only for physician-supervised protocols to be used as an adjunct to anesthesia; otherwise it is not approved for medical use in the U.S. It is a central nervous system depressant that can relax, or at higher doses, sedate the body while slowing breathing and heart rate to dangerous levels. It is often used "recreationally" for its ability to produce intoxicating and euphoric effects. Other effects include: dizziness, extreme drowsiness, stupor, agitation, nausea, visual disturbances, memory impairment, confusion, loss of inhibition, seizures, severe respiratory depression, reduced heart rate and blood pressure, loss of consciousness, coma, and death. The drug takes effect in 10-30 minutes and lasts 3 - 6 hours depending on the dosage; the effects can be intensified and prolonged with alcohol.

    IDENTIFICATION: GHB can be produced in a clear liquid, white powder, tablet or capsule form. In liquid form, it can have a slightly salty taste. GHB is most commonly found in liquid form in small bottles or vials such as plastic sports bottles, "spring water" bottles or small "Visine" eye-drop containers. It commonly sells for about $10.00 per capful or "swig". Unlike Rohypnol, GHB is cleared from the body relatively quickly and it therefore more difficult to detect through drug testing. Samples taken closer to the time of ingestion increase the likelihood of detecting the drug.

    GHB is usually a street manufactured drug, commonly found at nightclubs, underground RAVE parties, and used by body builders for its purported anabolic effects.

  3. Ketamine Hydrochloride ('K', Special K, Vitamin K, Ket) is an anesthetic used mainly as an animal tranquilizer. It is a newer date-rape drug and causes amnesia, a dream-like feeling or dissociation (the feeling of the mind being separated from the body), loss of sense of time and hallucinations. It is produced in liquid, powder or pill form.

Other drugs that have been associated with date rape:

Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) 1,4 Butanediol Diazepam (Valium)
Clonazepam (Klonopin, Rivotril) Temazepam (Restoril) Bromazepam (Lexotan)
Chloral Hydrate Sleeping Aids Lorazepam (Ativan)
Alprazolam (Xanax) Opiates Oxazepam (Serax)
Nitrazepam (Mogadon) Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) Marijuana
Ethchlorvynol Muscle Relaxants Flurazepam (Dalmane)
Triazolam (Halcion) Scopolamine (Burundanga) Cocaine
Barbiturates Amphetamines Antihistamines
Gamma Butyrolactone (GBL, Renewtrient, Revivarant G, Blue Nitro Vitality, GH Revitalizer, Gamma G, Remforce)

How to protect yourself:

  • Use the buddy system. You are safer when you are with a friend you trust.
  • Be extra cautious when you are places with lots of people or people you don’t know and trust.
  • Be aware. Protect your drink and food at all times.
  • Don’t go home with someone you don’t both know and trust. Make an agreement with friends that you won’t let each other leave with people you haven’t planned to go with.
  • Don’t accept drinks when you are alone at an unfamiliar place or where there are strangers.
  • Get your own drink or watch carefully when someone pours you a drink.
  • Be cautious of accepting a drink from a punch bowl.
  • Pay close attention if you hear someone "kidding" about date rape drugs. Then you should consider leaving.
  • Watch the behavior of friends who seem more intoxicated than expected from the amount of alcohol consumed.

If you suspect you have been drugged and/or sexually assaulted:

Individuals who suspect they have been assaulted and/or drugged with Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine Hydrochloride or any other substance, may choose to contact their local rape crisis center or law enforcement agency for drug testing and information on available resources. Most substances can be detected through appropriate drug testing. They should also try to save the glass/beverage the drug was dissolved in for testing. These findings can provide valuable evidence in a court of law if the victim/survivor chooses to prosecute the case.

SOURCES:

  • American Prosecutors Research Institute Violence Against Women Program. (1999). The Prosecution of Rohypnol and GHB Related Sexual Assaults.
  • Hoffman-La Roche toll free information hotline (1-800-720-1076) provides general information on Rohypnol.
  • US Department of Health Services: Office on Women’s Health: http://www.4woman.gov/faq/rohypnol.htm
  • Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), www.wcasa.org
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