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Date Rape Drugs 20-135095 2 Hours Back to Course Index

 

Date Rape Drugs            

 

              

drd8            

INTRODUCTION

 

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, describes date rape as rape or non-consensual sexual activity between people who are already acquainted, or who know each other socially friends, acquaintances, people on a date, or even people in an existing romantic relationship it is alleged that consent for sexual activity was not given, or was given under duress.  In most jurisdictions, there is no legal distinction between rape committed by a stranger, or by an acquaintance, friend or lover and the term is often used to describe a rape where there is a lack of physical coercion, in contrast to more traditional (although often inaccurate) conceptions of rape.

 

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia went on to say:  In some cases, date rape drugs such as ketamine, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol, or roofies”) may be used to neutralize resistance or even render the victim semi-conscious.  Such drugs may also affect memory of the event.  Alcohol is, however, by far the most widely used drug in rapes. 

 

Society has struggled with the concept of rape; however, at the most basic level it is: a crime of forcing another person to submit to sexual intercourse.  An act of rape as portrayed in movies has the unknown aggressor attacking the victim in a park or some other isolated place.  The true story of rape is that about 50% of the people who are raped know the person who attacked them.  In recent years a new kind of rape threat has been identified and is initiated by so called predator or date rape drugs.  Again, we run into a problem with identification of what is a date rape drug?  From a technical prospective, any substance that renders a person incapable of saying no or asserting their wants and needs can be used to commit rape; consequently, drugs like alcohol, marijuana, designer or club drugs like ecstasy or even some over-the-counter sleeping pills and antihistamines may be used to alter ones state of awareness, alertness and to lower their inhibitions to where they are an easier target for a sexual predator.  However, the term date rape drug generally applies to the drugs Rohypnol, Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB) and Ketamine Hydrochloride.

 

Date rape drugs are used to assist a sexual assault.  Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity that a person does not agree to.  It can include inappropriate touching, vaginal penetration, sexual intercourse, rape and attempted rape.  Because of the effects of these drugs, victims may be physically helpless, unable to refuse sex, and cant remember what happened.  The drugs often have no color, smell, or taste and are easily added to flavored drinks without the victims knowledge.  

 

 

EFFECTIVENESS OF DATE RAPE DRUGS

 

Why are Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine effective date rape drugs?  There are many factors and some of the more salient ones include:

o       The drugs are almost undetectable when added to a beverage (tasteless, odorless, and colorless) and they are easily slipped into drinks and food and are very fast acting (typically 20 to 30 minutes after ingestion).

o        Drugs are eliminated from the body very quickly (all traces of the drug will leave the body within days and the drugs are not identified by most routine toxicology screen or blood test; special tests are required to identify a date rape drug and the special test must be performed quickly.

o       Drugs generally render the victim semi-conscious but responsive with little or no memory of what happened while the drug was active in their system.  For example, Rohypnol can cause profound amnesia (individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the effects of the drug).

o       Drugs also make the victim act without inhibition, often in a sexual or physically affectionate way.  Specifically, a date rape drug renders a person incapable of thinking clearly or of making appropriate decisions.

o       Administration of a date rape drug results in a very passive victim, one who is still able to play a role in what is happening but who will have no clear memory of what happened after-the-fact.  Also, without a clear memory of events the victim is often unaware that they have even been raped; and if they are aware or have suspicions they make very poor witnesses.

 

A study of the aforementioned characteristics of date rape drugs helps one to understand the risks associated with their use.  It is not too difficult to imagine the consequences of this type drug in the hands of a sexual predator.  It gives him or her the precise instrument needed to carry out their insidious attack on innocent victims with little risk of ever being apprehended.  When I was in private practice, I counseled a victim of date rape.  She was in a local bar and remembered having a couple of drinks.  Her next recall was about twelve hours later when she regained consciousness in the restroom.  She was aware that she had been raped but did not remember who or how many others were involved.  This particular story is complicated in that she became pregnant during the rape and her religious beliefs opposed abortion.  She ultimately made the decision to terminate the pregnancy and has been left with the psychological scars that she will nave to deal with throughout her life.  She was fortunate in that she did not contract any sexually transmitted disease (STD) during this encounter.  


 

EFFECTIVENESS OF DATE RAPE DRUGS

 

If an individual is suspicious that they have had intercourse and have no memory of the event then there is a strong indication they have been given a date rape drug; consequently, the following actions are recommended for a client:

 

 o       Physical examination to determine if signs of sexual activity are present

        even if the individual has no memory of actually having intercourse. 

             

        Signs to look for include:

o       soreness or bruising in the genital area.

o       soreness or bruising on the wrists and forearms, defensive bruising or scratching  (indication some resistance to the attack).

o       discarded condoms near the where the individual wakens or in waste cans.

o       traces of semen or vaginal fluids on clothes, body or objects in the vicinity of the potential rape.

 

o       Appear to be overly intoxicated for the amount of drinks consumed (i.e., two drinks and could not walk to the restroom).  This type information is generally gathered from friends who know the typical drinking pattern of the individual.

 

o       Severe hang-over despite having ingested little or no alcohol, a sense of having had hallucinations or very real dreams, slight memory of feeling or acting intoxicated despite having taken no drugs or drinking very little alcohol. 

 

o       Loss of memory of events during past 12 to 24 hours with no explanation for the memory lapse and indications from friends that the individual was really highly intoxicated.

 

From a legal perspective, if an individual has had sex but does not remember the encounter or remember giving consent, then the individual has been raped whether a date rape drug has been used or not.  If one is suspicious and wants to make sure then they must go to a hospital quickly and request a preliminary rape examine with testing for date rape drugs.

 

    

 

DATE RAPE DRUGS

 

Rohypnol and GHB are central nervous system depressants and both drugs emerged in the early 1990’s as date-assisted-assault drugs.  Due to the abuse of these drugs, Congress passed the Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996 making it illegal to bring Rohypnol or GHB into the United States.  The law also increased federal penalties for use of any controlled substance to aid in sexual assault.

 

Ketamine is chemically different than either Rohypnol or GHB.  Its chemical structure and mechanism of action is similar to PCP.  It is a dissociative anesthetic and is used primarily for veterinary medicine.

 

Rohypnol drd4

 

Rohypnol is a trade name for flunitrazepam and belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.  It is a very potent tranquilizer similar in nature to Valium (diazepam) but many times stronger.  It is typically found in pill form and is easily dissolved in liquids.  It produces a sedative effect, amnesia, muscle relaxation, and a slowing of psychomotor responses.  Significant effects occur 20 to 30 minutes after ingestion and lasts for several hours.  The drug is often distributed on the street in its original packaging.  Rohypnol is legal in Europe and Mexico and is prescribed for sleep problems and as an anesthetic.  It is brought into the United States illegally.  One of the most common street names for Rohypnol is Roofies.

Other street names include: rophies, roach and rope.

 

Illicit use of Rohypnol in the United States was first reported in the early 1990s.  The drug quickly gained acceptance and use by high school and college students.  It was integrated into the nightclub, bar or trance scene.  Raves and trances are nightlong events or parties.  Many who attend them do not use drugs,  but for those who do they are attracted to Rohypnol due to its low cost and to the intoxicating highs that are said to deepen the rave experience.  Most people who use drugs at a rave do so by choice.

 

Roofies are often combined with alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine to produce a rapid and very dramatic high.  Even when used alone, users can appear extremely intoxicated, with slurred speech, poor coordination, reduced motor skills, and blood-shot eyes.  The drug has been added to punch and other drinks at fraternity parties and other social gatherings, where it is reportedly given to female party participants in hopes of lowered inhibitions and facilitating potential sexual conquest.  There have been reports that young women have awakened in frat houses with no clothes on, finding themselves in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people or having actually been sexually assaulted while under the influence of a drug.

 

The danger of using Rohypnol does not stop with the aforementioned hazards.  For example, when it is mixed with alcohol or other drugs it may lead to respiratory depression, aspiration, and even death.  With repetitious use, it can lead to physical and psychological dependence, which is thought to increase with both dose and duration of use.  Also, an amnesia producing effect of Roofies may prevent users from remembering how or why they took the drug or even that others gave them it.  Rohypnol is a major factor in unprotected sex (increases exposure to sexually transmitted diseases) and unwanted pregnancies especially among teens and youth.

 

Other physical and psychological problems that have been identified with use of Rohypnol are:

 

o       Loss of memory (unable to remember what happened while drugged); confusion.

o       Blood pressure is lowered.

o       Sleepiness; communication skills diminished

o       Difficulty in motor movements; drunken feeling; muscle relaxation or loss of muscle control.

o       Nausea; stomach problems

o       Vision problems

o       Loss of consciousness; dizziness

o       Speech impediment

 

Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB) drd6

 

GHB is a chemical that has become a major cause of drug-related comas in the United States and other countries.  GHB is typically found in liquid form and can be easily hidden in water/drink bottles, eye and nasal sprays and mouthwash containers.  It is often mixed with sweet or fruity drinks to mask its salty or chemical taste when the intent is to give it to an unsuspecting victim for the purpose of rape or robbery.  GHB was rejected by the American medical community in the 1960s, but has become popular among many people for its ability to depress consciousness, resulting in euphoria and intoxication.  It is also touted as a sleep aid, anti-depressant and weight loss product. 

 

At one time, it was viewed as an alternative to steroids.  GHB was available in health food stores until 1992.  Its most popular application was by body builders to aid in fat reduction and muscle building.  GHB was recently made legal in the United States to treat problems associated with narcolepsy (sleep problem).

 

GHB addiction can occur (within a few weeks) if it is used on a daily or systematic basis (around the clock every one to two hours). 

 

Common applications that can lead to addiction are anti-depressant, sleep aid, workout aid, weight loss product, anti-aging substance and/of other similar applications.  The aforementioned applications may be hazardous to ones health and may lead to addiction however, it is the occasional or unsuspecting users that are more at risk of rape, overdose and death.  A date rape victim, although exposure to the drug may be involuntary, fits into the occasional user category.      

 

GHB use can cause coma and seizures and other depressant related symptoms.  Combining GHB with alcohol can result in nausea and breathing difficulties.  Overdose can result in death.  Upon cessation of GHB use, an individual may experience withdrawal effects such as insomnia, anxiety, tremors and sweating. 

 

Individuals who are systematic users of GHB include:

 

o       Attendees at dance clubs or raves (social events that usually last all night); GHB is used because the attendees are seeking a particular mood to enhance their rave experience and they generally choose to use the drug.  The rave is also a likely place for a sexual predator to find a victim.

 

o        Sexual predators are attracted to GHB because it results in the victim being in a euphoric state with lower inhibitions; Also, the victim may not remember events while under the influence of the drug and GHB is difficult to detect by routine drug screens and urine tests.  Also, it is eliminated from the body within a few hours.

 

o       Athletes often use GHB for body building on a daily basis and are more likely to become addicted.

 

o       Individuals who use GHB as a sleep aid. These individuals are also at risk to become addicted.

 

o       Seniors using GHB as an anti-aging medication.

 

o       Individuals may substitute GHB for alcohol to avoid failing a drug screen.  GHB is difficult to detect due to the short duration of time that it stays in the body and by the absence of GHB testing modality.

 

In low doses, GHB produces a high or euphoric feeling as inhibitions are lowered. When the dose is increased, there is a corresponding decrease in heart rate and respiratory function that could cause coma or death.  Effects on the central nervous system may result in a spasm of muscle contractions (called myoclonus), producing seizure-like movements.  Other effects such as confusion, amnesia, vomiting and irregular breathing are dangerous when combined with the major depressant effects of GHB.  Other drugs used in combination with GHB, especially other depressants such as alcohol, may worsen the depressive effects and increase the possibility of a fatal outcome. The dosage response of GHB can be dramatic (small increases may cause a catastrophic effect). The effects last for about four hours and generally subside rather quickly.  GHB overdose has a distinctive time baseline.  For example, a users state of mind becomes altered and there is a high possibility of loss of consciousness or coma.  Breathing can slow to about five breaths per minute.  Fortunately, most individuals are able to recover from an overdose without any lingering effects.

 

GHB is an illicit and dangerous drug that represents a potentially deadly risk even when used for recreational purposes or any unsupervised or unmonitored use.  Unfortunately, many in society have a misconception of it as being only a dietary supplement; consequently, the general public needs to be educated as to the detrimental potential it represents to those who use it or administer it to an unknowing and unsuspecting victim (date rape target).  Health care professionals and law enforcement also need to become more aware of the effects and dangers, especially overdose and date rape so that they can play a greater role in protecting and educating the public.

 

A set of health problems typically follow heavy GHB users (individuals who make a choice to use GHB as opposed to sexual predator victims).  The more significant ones are listed below:

o       Relaxation/drowsiness/dizziness/nausea

o       Severe mood swings/euphoria

o       Vision problems

o       Unconsciousness/dream-like feelings

o       Breathing problems/slow heart rate

o       Tremors/sweating/vomiting

o       Coma/death

 

Again, GHB is a central nervous system depressant and when used with alcohol (also a depressant) the health risks are compounded.

 

 

Ketamine drd7

 

Ketamine is a legal drug sold as a hospital grade anesthesia and veterinary sedative and goes by the brand names Ketaset or Ketalar (registered names).  It is in the same family of drugs as Phencyclidine (PCP).  It is used as a surgical anesthetic to control severe pain.  It is typically available on-the-street by being diverted from medical and veterinary supplies.  It is usually injected but can be evaporated to solid crystals, powdered and smoked, snorted or swallowed.  Users experience disassociation effects that are often referred to as out-of-the-body experiences.  Users describe dreamlike states, often filled with illusions and even hallucinations that last for four to six hours.  The users are also impervious to pain such as that caused by injury or rape. Street names for Ketamine are: Cat Valium, K, Special K, and Vitamin K.

 

Ketamine has become popular as a rave or club drug and is often preferred by sexual predators as it produces amnesia and renders the victim ineffective in their own defense.  Also, it is odorless and tasteless and can be easily added to a beverage and consumed without the victim even being aware that they are (were) drugged.  Sexual predators also prefer this drug because it renders the victim vaguely aware of, but comfortably detached from, all bodily sensations. 

 

Large doses of Ketamine can cause reactions similar to those associated with the use of phencyclidine (dream-like states and altered perceptions or hallucinations).  Other common effects include:  mild respiratory depression, confusion, amnesia, delirium, cardiac excitement, aggressive and violent behavior, slurred speech delayed reaction time, and difficulty in thinking, and processing information, impaired motor function, high blood pressure depression and potentially fatal respiratory problems.  Low-dose intoxication from ketamine results in impaired attention, learning ability and memory.  

 

Ketamine is quick acting in the body.  When taken orally or nasally, the effects are felt in about 15 minutes.  When it is taken intravenously, the effects are almost instantaneous.  The effects last for about 2.5 hours and the drug is detectable in the body for about 48 hours (special tests are required to identify Ketamine).

 

The following problems have been reported with use of Ketamine:

 

o       Hallucinations; out-of-body sensation; distorted perception of sight and sound; slurred speech

o       Disorientation; loss of awareness of time and identity

o       Feeling of out-of-control; impaired motor functions

o       Breathing difficulty; vomiting; convulsions; numbness

o       Memory problems; dream-like feelings

o       Aggressive and violent behavior

o       Amnesia

 

drd5PROTECTION AGAINST DATE RAPE

 

A date rape drug is a powerful weapon in the hands of a sexual predator.  Rapes can be committed behind a semi-conscious haze of drug influence that often leaves the victim oblivious to the fact that they have been assaulted.  Since the introduction of date rape drugs into the mainstream culture (especially into the social culture of teens and college students) it begs the question as to the best protection strategy against date rape drugs.  Professionals can recommend a number of practical steps for clients to take to reduce the risk of drug assisted sexual assault:

 

o       Plan your night out and inform friends and family of your schedule.  Plan your journey to and from home.

 

o       Inform a friend and/or family where you are going and when you plan to return home.

 

o       Party with friends who can look out for each other; avoid going to a pub or bar alone; designate a drink watcher.

 

o       Self monitor your level of intoxication.  If you feel overly intoxicated for the amounts of drinks consumed it is a good reason for concern.

 

o       Accept drinks only from people you know and trust.

 

o       When in a bar or club, order drinks directly from the bartender; keep an eye on your drink as it is being processed and presented to you; dont let anyone go to the bar for you.

 

o       At parties, do not accept drinks in open containers.

 

o       Never leave your drink unattended.

 

o       Avoid secluded places until you trust your partner.

 

o       Dont spend time alone with someone who makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable.  Develop a sense of when a situation is risky and escape or avoid such situations.  Shyness is not a virtue in situations like this.

 

o       Do not drink from open beverage sources such as punch bowls.

 

o       Be alertif there is talk of date rape drugs or if your friends appear too intoxicated for their norm of drinking, leave the party or club immediately and dont go back.  Stay sober and aware.  If you are with someone you dont know very well, be aware of whats going on around you and try to stay in control.  Also, be aware of your dates ability to consent to sexual activity as you may become guilty of committing rape if the other person is not in a condition to respond or react.

 

o       Utilize the buddy system; drink with a friend who knows youre drinking pattern and is capable of protecting you if you are over-intoxicated for the amount of alcohol consumed.  Go out with a group of friends and watch out for each other.

 

o       Dont be afraid to ask for help if you feel threatened.  Dont be reluctant to leave a bar or pub as time is critical in drug exposure situations.

 

o       Know what you want in a relationship and communicate this communicate this clearly to the other person.  Dont yield to peer pressure or encouragement to do something that you dont want to do. 

 

 An additional rule that can be suggested is to avoid high-risk establishments.  Everyone should be aware of the reputation of the places they hangout.  In other words, individuals should listen to the chatter regarding the places they are going and if it has a reputation as being a place where problems exist then it is probably a good place to stay away from.  The old saying that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure is certainly applicable in this situation as its really difficult to get away from some of the negative consequences of a bad sexual experience.  Safety and security should be counseled as a primary concern.

 

Unfortunately, some seek out the drugs for their own use.  In these cases professionals should work from a model of drug abuse and addiction recovery.  Education should focus on the negative consequences of use.

 

GETTING HELP

 

Even when a person takes every precaution, date rape can still happen.  Some of the actions that can be recommended include:

 

o       Go to the emergency room and report that you have been or potentially been raped.

 

o       Contact a friend, family or someone you trust and tell them what has happened; you will need all of the emotional help thats available.

 

o       If you choose to report the rape, call the police immediately.  Preserve all of the physical evidence (dont change clothes or shower).

 

o       Document as much as you can remember of the events of the evening.

 

o       Call a rape crisis center if you are not sure of what actions you should take.

 

Rape is not only physical, but also psychologically damaging.  Most victims find it difficult to think or talk about something as personal as being raped by someone they know but talking with a trained rape crisis counselor or other mental health professional can give them the right emotional attention, care and support to begin the healing process.

 

Venereal disease and unwanted pregnancies can be dealt with, if necessary.  These topics will frequently come up during therapy.  Antibiotics are available to combat most venereal diseases and the morning after pill is available to terminate pregnancy, depending on the clients belief system regarding this avenue.  The client should discuss all options and concerns before taking action.  These and other aids can be used in rape situations but needs to be administered in a timely basis.

 

 

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