- Date rape drug
Date rape drug refers to a drug that can be used to assist in the execution of a sexual assault, such as date rape. Drugs used to facilitate rape may have sedative, hypnotic, dissociative, and/or amnesiac effects, and can be added to a food or drink without the victim's knowledge.
The act of adding such substances to drinks is known as "drink spiking". The reasons for drink spiking range from personal amusement or maliciousness to theft or sexual assault.
Types of drugs
The three most commonly used drugs for date rape are alcohol and two prescription-strength sleep aids. The two prescription drugs are GHB, also known as gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, and benzodiazepines (such as flunitrazepam, also known as Rohypnol or "roofies"); however, an American 1997 study showed that alcohol still remains the drug most frequently implicated in substance-assisted sexual assault.
Alcohol remains the most commonly used date rape drug, being readily available as well as legal. Many assailants use alcohol because their victims often willingly imbibe it, and can be encouraged to drink enough to lose inhibitions or consciousness. Even if the victim agrees to sex, the act may be considered rape in some jurisdictions if the victim's judgment was impaired or incapacitated by alcohol. Some assailants have committed "rapes of convenience" whereby they have assaulted a victim after he or she had become unconscious from drinking too much. A study in the UK found that only 2 percent of a pool of 1,014 rape victims had their drinks spiked with sedatives. Another UK study of 75 patients, most of them women, who thought their drinks had been tampered with in pubs or clubs found that none had been given a surreptitious drug. They had simply become intoxicated. Similarly, a 2009 Australian study concluded that, of 97 patients admitted to hospital claiming to have had their drinks spiked, none had in fact been drugged.
Benzodiazepines are drugs used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, and several other conditions. Some benzodiazepines used to treat insomnia possess powerful sedative, motor-impairing, and strong amnestic properties. Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) is popularly held to be a date rape drug although little evidence exists for its use for this purpose in the UK.
Though flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) is often cited as a date rape drug because of its high potency, strong effects and the ability to cause strong amnesia during its duration of action, investigations into its actual use as a date rape drug have contradicted popular belief. According to research conducted by Michael Robertson from the San Diego Medical Examiner's office and Dr. Mahmoud El Sohly of El Sohly Laboratories, test results indicated that flunitrazepam was only used in around 1% of reported date rapes according to Robertson and 0.33% according to urine lab tests done by El Sohly. In fact, the benzodiazepines midazolam and temazepam were the two most common benzodiazepines utilized for date rape.
Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) has effects that are very similar to those of alcohol. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration:
- "Victims may not be aware that they ingested a drug at all. GHB and its analogues are invisible when dissolved in water, and are odorless. They are somewhat salty in taste, but are indiscernible when dissolved in beverages such as soft drinks, liquor, or beer."
- "GHB is, in fact, quite salty. When mixed in a drink, it ruins the drink (like dumping bicarb into a drink)."
Common recreational doses of GHB are in the range of 1.8 to 2.7 grams, a large amount compared with most other sedative drugs, which can be active in amounts measured in milligrams. Doses required to induce complete sedation are even higher in most individuals. This makes detection of a drink tainted with GHB more likely.
The prodrugs GBL and 1,4 Butanediol (1,4 BD or BDO) were used to bypass GHB restriction laws. In the human body the analogs are rapidly converted into GHB. Under US federal law, GBL and other analogs are covered and treated the same as GHB, when used for human consumption. Several people have died after consuming GHB or its analogs, often in combination with alcohol or other sedatives, which amplify its effect.
Respiratory depression, coma, and death are unpredictable possibilities when someone unknowingly takes a date rape drug, especially in large doses or in combination with alcohol. There are many factors that can leave someone unpredictably vulnerable. The person may have an unknown allergy to the drug. They may be taking one of several common prescription medicines which have dangerous reactions with date rape drugs. Also, a portion of the population has variations in the enzymes which metabolize the drug, resulting in an unpredictably amplified response to the drug.
It is imperative that any investigation into the suspected use of date rape drugs involve an immediate urine test and possible blood test, as waiting too long to test for the presence of drugs may cause false negatives, because these drugs are quickly metabolized and eliminated by the body. Trying to deduce from the symptoms whether or not date rape drugs have been used can cause false positives.
Testing kits that claim to detect GHB, ketamine, and benzodiazepines such as Rohypnol in seconds are commercially available. Companies around the world are making or trying to make paper coasters or test strips that change color when dabbed with a drink doctored with a date rape drug.
In most parts of the world, whether or not a drug was used is irrelevant to the issue of whether a particular incident is rape or not. The legal definition of rape in countries such as the United States also covers a lack of consent when the victim is unable to say "no" to intercourse, whether the effect is due to drugging or simply alcohol consumption.
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- ^ ...alcohol is the drug most commonly used to help commit sexual assault US Gov't
- ^ "Rohypnol: The date rape drug". BBC News. 1999-02-04. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/medical_notes/270247.stm. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
- ^ Alcohol Is Most Common 'Date Rape' Drug. Medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-01.
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- ^ Jenny Hope (16 February 2007). "Drug rape myth exposed as study reveals binge drinking is to blame". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=436592&in_page_id=1770. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
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- ^ ElSohly, Mahmoud A.; Lee, Luen F.; Holzhauer, Lynn B.; Salamone, Salvatore J. (2001). "Analysis of urine samples in cases of alleged sexual assault case history". Benzodiazepines and GHB: 127–144.
- ^ GHB, GBL and 1,4BD as Date Rape Drugs. Usdoj.gov. Retrieved on 2011-06-01.
- ^ The Demonization of GHB by Ward Dean, M.D. Antiaging-systems.com. Retrieved on 2011-06-01.
- ^ "Watch out for Date Rape Drugs". Michigan Department of Community Health. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/publications_date_rape_drugs_8886_7.pdf. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
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