Date Rape Drugs

Alcohol - The Most Frequently Used Date Rape Drug

Alcohol is a factor in 95% of sexual assaults reported to the UNC Police Department. Alcohol impairs inhibitions, judgment and decision making. Mixing alcohol and sex puts you at risk for sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, or simply being in an embarrassing and awkward situation in the morning. One in five college students abandon safe sex practices when they're drunk, even if they always protect themselves when sober.

If a person is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, s/he by law cannot give consent. If someone is passed out, whether from alcohol, drugs, or illness, s/he cannot give consent to sex. Therefore if sexual contact occurs, it is sexual assault. If you are uncertain if your partner is sober enough to give consent, wait for another time. It's not worth the risk.

The Dangers of Rohypnol & GHB

Rohypnol, GHB and other drugs are sometimes used to facilitate sexual assault. They can be slipped into the drink of an unsuspecting victim, causing incapacitation in just minutes.

Rohypnol: What is it?

Rohypnol (the brand name of Flunitrazepam) is a benzodiazepine like the tranquilizer Valium, yet it is 10 times more potent. Rohypnol has been called the "date rape drug" because of its use in sexual assaults. Rohypnol produces profound, prolonged sedation, a feeling of well being and short-term memory loss. Sedation occurs 15-20 minutes following the administration of just 2 mg of the drug and lasts from 4 to 24 hours.

How Can I Recognize It?

In the U.S., Rohypnol is commonly found in its .5-or 1-mg tablet form or, though rare, in a 2-mg/ml solution that can be injected. The drug is targeted at young people for several reasons. One is that Rohypnol is sold very cheaply (a tablet can be bought for a street value of $1 to $5). Another reason is the innocent appearance of the drug.

In its most common form, it is distributed as a small, round, white "aspirin-like" tablet. It can also be found as a powdered substance. The tablets come packaged in bubble-foil packets and have a "clean, pure" look to them. The drug is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Some of the common street names for Rohypnol include: roofies, roopies, circles, ruffies, roches, and "the forget pill".

What are the Effects on the Body?

The effects of Rohypnol are similar to other sedatives: a drunk appearance (drowsiness, light-headedness, dizziness), muscle weakness, fatigue, slurred speech, loss of motor coordination, loss of judgment, and amnesia that lasts up to 24 hours. Death has resulted in a few Rohypnol users due to coma induction or a combination effect of the drug with other drugs, most notably alcohol. Some of the adverse effects include: hallucinations, delirium, convulsions, coma, numbness, nausea, seizures, and sleep disruption. Patterns of abuse involve mixing the drug with alcohol, spiking drinks in order to commit sexual assault, and ingesting or snorting the drug to boost the effects of cocaine or heroin.

Rohypnol is also used by drug users to offset the effects of withdrawal from other drugs.

GHB - More Than Three Letters:

A drug that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 1990 has made an illegal comeback. The substance is called Gamma Hydroxybutyrate, or GHB. It is made from ingredients found in health food and chemical supply stores. GHB is illegal in the U.S. and cannot be bought; however, it is still being clandestinely made and dispensed at night clubs and elsewhere. GHB is sometimes used by athletes because it promotes the release of growth hormones.

GHB creates deep sedation quickly like rohypnol and is considered a "date rape" drug. Known also as Liquid X, Salt Water, Scoop or Easy Lay, GHB in its most common form is a clear liquid; but it may also come in a white, grainy, powdered form. GHB is readily absorbed and reaches the brain quickly. A one-half gram quantity of GHB renders the victim helpless to defend against an assault. Side effects include drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, disorientation, incontinence, coma and death (especially when combined with alcohol).

How Can I Prevent Becoming a Victim?

Do not accept beverages, including nonalcoholic ones, from someone not known and trusted well. In a bar, only accept drinks from the bartender or wait staff. Always watch your drink at bars and parties. Never leave your drink unattended. Be aware of what's going on around you. Be alert to behavior of friends if someone appears much more drunk than they should be considering the amount of alcohol consumed. Be concerned and closely monitor the person's behavior.

What to do if You are Victimized:

If you or a person you know might have been assaulted under the influence of Rohypnol or GHB:

  • Call the police (911) for assistance.
  • Immediately seek medical help.
  • Describe any and all symptoms fully to your physician.
  • Make your physician aware that you may have been drugged. It is critical that you be tested as soon as possible for the drug's presence in your body.
  • Try not to urinate prior to providing urine samples. If possible, find cups or glasses from which you drank and submit these to the police for laboratory tests.
  • Call UNC's Assault Survivors Advocacy Program (ASAP) at 351-4040 for assistance.