Alcohol and various other forms of drugs are often used by sexual assault perpetrators to try to incapacitate the victim so that s/he* has lower inhibitions and less control over the body, and is therefore unable to fight off a sexual assault. Perpetrators have even been known to take advantage of the victim while s/he was taking drugs prescribed to her by a doctor. Alcohol has been cited as the #1 date rape drug, and certainly is still the most common and widely used drug for this purpose.
In a typical date rape scenario involving alcohol, a woman goes to a party and is drinking. At some point she is either singled out by a man at the party or she shows interest in someone at the party. Whether by her own choice to drink excessively, or through the man's efforts to get her drunk by constantly bringing her drinks and/or bringing her stronger drinks or shots, she becomes extremely intoxicated. When she gets to the point of intoxication at which she is slurring words and having difficulty with motor control (walking straight for example), the man takes her to a more secluded location and has sex with her against her will. The bottom line is: if a person is incapacitated due to alcohol or other drugs, she is unable to give consent.
For more information about alcohol's
role in sexual assault, athealth.com has a good article: on Alcohol
and Sexual Assault.
General Date Rape Drug Info
There are many popular street drugs which are also being used for incapacitating rape victims because of the effects they have on the body. These drugs are used recreationally and are popular on the RAVE party/club scene. They include the "alphabet drugs" as they are sometimes called, "E" or Ecstasy, "G" which can be either GHB or GBL, and "K" or "Special K" which is Ketamine. For a while Rohypnol or "Roofies" was one of the most popular date rape drugs, but it has been replaced by GHB as the date rape drug of choice.
In a typical scenario with E, G, K or roofies, the perpetrator slips
the drug into the victim's drink. Since most of these drugs have no taste, odor, or color, they are usually undetected
by the victim. Their effects are magnified when used with alcohol and the chances of death occurring from the drug
are greatly increased when combined with alcohol. All of these drugs are powerful and when large enough doses are
present, they have the effect of making the person sleep deeply and/or go unconscious. While in this state, the
perpetrator or many perpetrators sexually assault the victim. She may wake up in the place where the assault occurred
or the perpetrator may get her back to a familiar place before she awakes. Typically, if she doesn't wake up while
something is happening to her or find clues that an assault has occurred, she may not discover it because she has
little or no memory of the events.
Many women who are raped using a date rape drug are not sure if they have been assaulted because they have no memory of the event. Some wake up naked or partially dressed, in a strange place, and/or unaware of how they got where they are. Some see a used condom nearby, have bruises on their body, or find other physical signs that they were assaulted. Some women have no physical signals at all and wake up in their own bed and therefore have no reason to be concerned. They assume that although they do not remember the previous events, a friend must have helped them get safely home.
If you think you may have been given one of these drugs and then sexually assaulted, or assaulted while intoxicated from alcohol, please call an S.O.S. volunteer who can listen, help you sort through what you remember (if anything), and/or share some options and resources available to you. Or, call or go to a hospital, Rape Crisis CONTACT, the Center for Counseling and Student Development, or the police. University of Delaware Police have officers trained specifically in the area of sexual assault and you can request a female officer. For more information about these date rape drugs continue reading below.
TIPS TO MINIMIZE YOUR RISK AND INCREASE YOUR SAFETY:
GHB & GBL
GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate) is a Central Nervous System depressant which was studied for use with narcolepsy patients to help them sleep. It is considered a controlled substance in some states and thus illegal. It causes euphoria, hallucinations, and deep sleep. It has many street names including "G", Liquid E, Liquid X, Scoop, Greivous Bodily Harm, Easy Lay, etc. GBL (Gamma Butyrolactone) is an ingredient of GHB which metabolizes into GHB in the body. It is legal in many states and is also known as "G", mellow yellow, Blue Nitro, Revivarant, Renutrient, Remforce, or NRG3. GBL has been used legally by bodybuilders as a growth hormone stimulant. GHB is produced legally in Europe by legitimate laboratories. However, in the U.S., most "G" sold on the streets is produced illegally in dealers' kitchens with inaccurate dosing levels and unstable quality.
"G" is taken recreationally to bring on a euphoric state, help the person lose inhibitions, and increase sexual pleasure. It is available as a clear, salty tasting liquid or white powder which can easily be dissolved or hidden in strong-tasting beverages. When used without the person's knowledge, in higher doses than appropriate for their body, and/or mixed with alcohol, it creates memory loss, respitory depression, muscular fatigue, passing out, coma, and can even cause death. Thus, it is extremely easy to have sex with someone without their consent if they have been given GHB or GBL. In the case of a GHB overdose, there is no known antidote. GHB leaves the bloodstream after 4-7 hours but can still be detected in urine within 24 hours. The difficulty with urine testing is that the victim may not discover for some time beyond that 24 hours what has happened (if at all) and therefore she does not know to collect a urine sample. The sooner the urine is collected after being given or taking GHB, (within the first 3 urinations) the more likely to have a positive result of testing.
Ketamine, known on the street as "K", Special K, Kat, is an illegal controlled substance in some states. It is known as the rich kids' drug because it is expensive. Ketamine is classified as a dissociate anesthetic and is closely related to PCP. Currently it is used legally by veterinarians as an animal anesthetic. It became the drug of choice at RAVE parties in the mid-1990s. In liquid form, Ketamine is clear, odorless, tasteless. In powder form it is white and looks similar to cocaine. Ketamine produces a short high (20-30 minutes) and is thus referred to as the "businessman's LSD". In moderate doses, Ketamine produces euphoria, a quick burst of energy, drunken feeling, loss of inhibition, confusion, ringing in the ears. In higher doses, it creates tunnel vision, shortness of breath, loss of balance, floating sensation, out-of-body experience, depression, no sense of time, seizures, coma, vomiting (when mixed with alcohol) or death. At RAVEs, there is often a location known as the "K-Hole" where people taking Ketamine go once that shortness of breath and out-of-body experience phase of the high begins because they are no longer able to control their body and must sit or lay around until it wears off. Ketamine is not as popular as a date rape drug as "G", but because of these effects on the body, it has been used in that capacity.
Rohypnol or "Roofies"
Rohypnol, also known as roofies, ropes, the forget pill, roach, rophies,
La Roche, and R-2, is the trade name for flunitrazepam. It is manufactured by Hoffman-LaRoche Company and sold
around the world for such problems as insomnia, but it is illegal in the United States. Clonazepam is a similar
drug made by Roche Laboratories which is marketed legally as Klonopin in the U.S. and is also sold illegally as
"roofies". Like GHB, Rohypnol is a sedative which, when mixed with alcohol, can incapacitate a victim.
When combined with alcohol, Rohypnol causes severe disorientation and the classic "blackout" and can
also cause death. Blackout periods can typically be 8-12 hours long and the victim may not appear awake during
this time, nor remember what happened during the blackout. It can also cause seizures. Victims sometimes feel dizzy
or nauseous after ingesting Rohypnol. Rohypnol is no longer the drug of choice for date rape because dealers have
raised their prices due to the risk factors associated with the drug. Nevertheless, it can be found in every part
of the United States. Hoffman-LaRoche is aware of these uses of Rohypnol and thus has developed a new formulation
of the drug. The new Rohypnol tablet dissolves more slowly and releases a bright blue color as it dissolves. When
used in darker liquids, the drink looks murky.
Ecstasy or "E"
The clinical name for Ecstasy is methlenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA. It is a combination of speed and mescaline that can produce psychedelic effects. Whereas the other date rape drugs are depressants, ecstasy is a stimulant. On the streets Ecstasy is known as the "love drug", "E", or "X". It is the drug of choice at RAVE parties and clubs because it creates euphoria, hyperexcitability, abundance of energy, lowers inhibitions. Users report a euphoric feeling of ecstasy and love in which physical/sexual contact intensifies the high. In high doses, ecstasy causes teeth grinding, scratching or rubbing skin, dizziness, eye twitching, panic attacks, elevated body temperature, muscle cramping, loss of consciousness, dehydration, and/or seizures. Though most users take ecstasy by choice, women have reported that they had sex or engaged in sexual acts that they never would have had if not under the influence of Ecstasy. It is not the date rape drug of choice, like GHB, because it does not cause memory loss, but it does cause loss of consciousness in high doses. Ecstasy can be detected in urine from 2-5 days after taking it. In extremely high doses, the heightened body temperature caused by ecstasy can lead to kidney and cardiovascular failure, and has been fatal in some cases.
Testing for Date Rape Drugs
If you think you have been drugged and then raped, it is important to have your blood or urine tested at a hospital or local laboratory as soon as possible. The critical time is ASAP with the first 24 hours but it is worthwhile to collect samples within the first 72 hours, as the length of time remaining in the body varies depending on the drug. You can collect a urine sample yourself and refrigerate or freeze it for days or even weeks until you find a location for testing.
Rohypnol remains in the bloodstream for 48 hours after ingestion and many laboratories conduct this test for a fee. GHB can only be tested on a GCMS machine. The Delaware State Police Laboratory is in the process of purchasing the this testing equipment so that any victims of sexual assault in Delaware have the option of having their urine tested locally and thus will have results back in 5 days. By contrast, the FBI lab does GHB testing but can only provide results in 18 months. S.O.S. is currently researching other avenues for blood and urine testing for date rape drugs. Christiana Care Medical Center and Newark Emergency Room do not conduct this testing. Roche Laboratories no longer offers this testing either. Union Hospital in Elkton, Maryland does take blood samples to test for Rohypnol and sends their samples out to Mayo Medical Labs for testing. They do not take samples to test for GHB. Many private labs offer this testing but it is quite expensive and is charged to the "patient".
For the best protection, do not drink at parties. If you do choose to drink at parties, it is especially important that you be careful of your drinks. Prepare your beverage yourself and keep it in your possession at all times. Do not accept drinks from others, even people you know as acquaintances. Don't go to parties alone - go with a friend or a group and make sure everyone leaves together. Be alert to the behaviors of your friends. If someone appears more drunk than she "should be" given the amount of alcohol consumed, be concerned and take action to get that person to a safe place. Keep a sample of the alcohol and refrigerate it if you can, and collect and refrigerate or freeze a urine sample within the first 24-72 hours after consumption for eventual testing. (The sooner collected, the better.)
Date rape committed with the use of
drugs is a pre-meditated, planned crime. So don't worry that you are being too
uptight or protective of yourself or your friends in these settings. Do what
you need to do to have fun but still be safe.
FOR MORE INFORMATION on these drugs, visit these internet resources.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Norfolk, MA District Attorney's Office Drug Page
Sttar Center's Date Rape Drug Page
Teen Challenge World Wide Network: Drug Info
The information presented on this page was compiled based on the internet resources listed above as well as information presented by Ellen Bloom, of the Women's Center of Monmouth County, Inc. in New Jersey. Ellen Bloom is certified for Rape Crisis Intervention and Police Training Commission in New Jersey. She presented at Contact Delaware's conference on "Drug Facilitated Rape" in April 2001. You can reach Ms. Bloom in care of the website linked above. S.O.S. presents this information with her permission and with our deep appreciation.
*Footnote: In reference to common sexual assault scenarios, SOS uses the female pronoun "she" most often because statistically in most sexual assault scenarios, the victim is female. We also provide information for men on our For Male Survivors page.