Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

A notable increase has occurred in recent years in the frequency of drug-facilitated sexual assaults.  The victims of these sexual assaults (most frequently women) are often older adolescents and young adults at bars, nightclubs, rave clubs and social parties.

The Use of Alcohol

It is important to bear in mind that the use of recreational drugs to facilitate rape and sexual assault is not a new phenomenon.  Having been used almost as long as recorded history, alcohol remains the most widely used date rape drug.

“Date Rape” or “Predatory” Drugs

The use of “date rape” or “predatory” drugs has become increasingly prevalent.   As these drugs have become more sophisticated in their effectiveness, they have been used more frequently to facilitate rape.  They are more and more used as “knock-out drugs” to render female victims helpless and amnesic.

The typical tactic for committing drug-facilitated sexual assaults is to ship the drug unknowingly into the drink of a female.  The victim usually loses consciousness in a short period of time, and often has no memory of the event.

Rohypnol

Rohypnol is a registered trade name for Flunitrazepam, a benzodiazepine drug nit eh same family of medications as Valium and Xanax.  However, it is 10 times more potent than Valium. Rohypnol has never been approved for any medical use in the United States.  It is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or possess it in the U.S.

Rohypnol is similar in size, shape and color to aspirin.  The pill is a small white tablet that is single or cross-scored on one side and has the word “Roche” and a circled number 1 or 2 on the other side.  They are sold in pre-sealed, foil wrapped “bubble packs” of one or two mg. doses.

Rohypnol dissolves easily in juice, coffee, carbonated and alcoholic beverages.  It was traditionally colorless, odorless, and tasteless when dissolved in a liquid.  The manufacturer, however, has reformulated it so that it imparts an easily identifiable blue color to clear beverages and haziness to colored beverages.

It is a potent sedative and takes effect within 20 minutes after ingestion, and the effects may last for up to 8-10 hours.  It may cause dizziness, disorientation, uninhibited behavior, impaired judgment, and reduced levels of consciousness.  The victim may act and look like someone who is drunk.  Their speech may be slurred and they may have difficulty walking, or they may be rendered unconscious.

GHB

GHB is gamma-hydroxybutziate.  It was originally used as an anesthetic on humans in Europe in the 1950’s.  it has never been approved for us in the United States.

Most of the GHB being used today is manufactured illegally by “kitchen chemists” by mixing various chemical ingredients, including solvents and caustic soda.  If not mixed correctly, a homemade formula can be deadly.

GHB is frequently distributed at cubs, bars, raves, and other parties.  It is usually doled out by capfuls, teaspoons, or “swigs.”  It may be sold or passed around in containers such as sports bottles, designer water bottles, eye dropper bottles, baby food jars, and plastic water jugs.

The effects of GHB may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, seizures, respiratory depression, intense, drowsiness, unconsciousness, and coma.  It acts as a depressant on the central nervous system.  The effects of the drug start with giddiness but lead to a deep sleep with amnesia.

Recommendations for Women

  • Limit alcoholic drinks to a maximum of one or two per hour.
  • Do not gulp alcoholic beverages.
  • Be wary of opened alcoholic beverages offered by strangers or male acquaintances.
  • Let you date be the first to drink from the punchbowl at a bar, club, or rave.
  • Avoid group drinking and especially avoid participating in drinking games.
  • Check with local police departments; they are usually a good source of information about the location of bars, clubs and areas where drug-facilitated sexual assault is known to have occurred.
  • When at an unfamiliar bar, directly observe your drink being poured by the bartender.
  • If your opened beverage tastes, looks or smells strange, do not drink it.
  • After returning to your table after dancing, using the restroom or make a phone call, get a fresh drink.
  • If you feel giddy or lightheaded at a bar, club, or party, get assistance.
  • If you arrived with friends, a prearranged plan should be in place to check on each other visually and verbally before separately departing a bar, club, or party.
  • If one of your friends appears to be intoxicated, get help or consider calling 9-1-1.

Further Reading

Center for Substance Abuse Research
www.cesar.umd.edu

National Institute on Drug Abuse
www.nida.nih.gov

Drug Enforcement Administration
www.dea.gov

Office of Drug Control Policy
www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov

Partnership for a Drug Free America
www.drugfreeamerica.com

Streetdrugs.org
www.streetdrugs.org

Source:  American Crime Prevention Institute