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Date Rape Drugs

Date Rape Drugs

Date rape drugs are drugs that are used to assist in the execution of a sexual assault. Effects of date rape drugs can include memory loss, dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, visual disturbance, and loss of muscular control. Although alcohol and marijuana are statistically the drugs most often associated with sexual assault, the term date rape drug is most commonly applied to GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid), Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), and ketamine. All three drugs are odorless and all but tasteless when added to a flavored drink and are often used without the knowledge or consent of the victim. They are quickly metabolized, leaving little physical evidence to support a victim's claims of sexual assault; similarly, the memory loss often induced by the drugs may render victims unaware of the attack until eight to twelve hours after its occurrence and make collecting sufficient evidence to prosecute the offense difficult.

Street names for GHB include "G," "grievous bodily harm," and "liquid ecstasy" or "liquid X." GHB is available as a white powder and as an odorless, colorless liquid. It can be easily synthesized and its analogues—GBL and BD 1,4—are readily available. Its effects include relaxation, memory loss, and dizziness. GHB overdoses are fairly common and often severe; more emergency room visits and deaths are associated with GHB than with either Rohypnol or ketamine.

Rohypnol, commonly known as "roofies," is the brand name for the drug flunitrazepam. Though illegal in the United States, Rohypnol is prescribed in Latin American and Europe as a sleeping pill. Originally, the Rohypnol pill was white, but the drug's maker has begun including a dye that should render the dissolved pill visible in liquid. Rohypnol's most notable effect is ante-rograde amnesia, which renders its user incapable of remembering events that occur while under the drug's influence. Rohypnol also induces muscular relaxation or loss of muscle control.

Ketamine, often called "special K," comes in both liquid and powder form and is approved for use in the United States as a veterinary tranquilizer. It is closely related to PCP and produces the sensation of being separated from one's body. At higher doses, the drug also induces hallucinations and an inability to move.

The most common date rape drugs are also known as club drugs, because of their popularity and wide availability at nightclubs and raves. Indeed, reports of sexual assault related to GHB, Rohypnol, and ketamine are associated with the rise of the rave scene in the early 1990s, and the drugs are most widely used by teenagers and young adults. The euphoric effects of the drugs make them attractive substitutes for ecstasy, the club drug of choice, and they are readily available in nightclubs and bars. (GHB is easily synthesized in home labs; the smuggling of Rohypnol into the United States, especially from Mexico, has risen steadily; and ketamine is routinely stolen from veterinary clinics and diverted from suppliers.) The increased incidence of sexual assault related to the drugs led to the passage by the United States Congress of the Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996.

see also Rape.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Gahlinger, Paul. 2004. Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide to Their History, Chemistry, Use, and Abuse. New York: Plume.

Kuhn, Cynthia, et al. 2003. Buzzed: The Straight Facts about the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy. 2nd edition. New York: Norton.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2006. "NIDA Infofacts: Rohypnol and GHB." National Institute on Drug Abuse. Available from http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/RohypnolGHB.html.

"What Are Predatory Drugs?" U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Available from http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/concern/predatory.html.

Woodworth, Terrance. March 11, 1999. "DEA Congressional Testimony: Statement before the House Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations." U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Available from http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/cngrtest/ct990311.htm.

                                        Maureen Lauder

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