“Date rape drugs” are substances that are sometimes used to facilitate sexual assault. When used in this way, these drugs are often given to the victim without the person’s knowledge. Sedatives and drugs that cause memory loss are the most frequently used drugs for this purpose. They are often slipped into alcoholic drinks, which can exacerbate their effects.

Date rape drugs are often odorless and tasteless, making them difficult to detect. This type of drug can make people weak, confused, or even unconscious. As a result, people are often unable to defend themselves against an attack; in some instances, they might not even know that an attack took place. Anyone can be the victim of an attack facilitated by a date rape drug.

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Date Rape Drugs

Some of the most common date rape drugs are Rohypnol, gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), ketamine, and chloral hydrate.

  1. Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine, a central nervous system depressant. This drug is sometimes used in other countries to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and seizure disorders; however, Rohypnol is illegal in the United States. Small doses of Rohypnol cause sedation and relaxation, while larger doses can lead to a loss of consciousness.White tablets of Rohypnol can be dissolved in liquid and can’t be detected by sight, smell, or taste. To deter the use of Rohypnol in sexual assault, the manufacturer created a new form of the drug – an oblong, green tablet – that turns liquid blue when it is dissolved. The white tablets, however, are still available.

Common effects of Rohypnol include:

  • Muscle relaxation
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Feeling drowsy or difficulty staying awake
  • Memory impairment
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Disinhibition
  • Tremors
  1. Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is a depressant drug. It is sometimes used to treat cataplexy and narcolepsy. GHB typically comes in powder form and can easily be dissolved in liquid. It has a slightly salty taste.Mixing GHB with alcohol exacerbates the effects of the drug and can trigger coma and respiratory depression. Effects of this drug generally appear 15-30 minutes after the drug is administered, and they last 3-6 hours. Low doses of GHB can cause drowsiness, nausea, and visual distortion. Larger doses of the drug may lead to the following effects:
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Respiratory depression
  • Lowered body temperature
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Coma
date rape drugs
  1. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. Dissociative anesthetics distort perceptions, like sight and sound, and cause a feeling of detachment. Its sedative effects are sometimes used during radiation and burn treatments, or before surgery. Because ketamine is most commonly used in veterinary practice, it is often diverted from veterinary clinics. It is most commonly found in a liquid, which can be added to alcoholic beverages without detection.The effects of orally ingested ketamine typically last 30-60 minutes, although judgment can be compromised for as long as 24 hours. Common effects of this drug include:
  • Respiratory depression
  • Dissociation
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Amnesia
  • Impaired motor functioning
  • Dangerously fast heart rate
  1. Chloral hydrate is a sedative sometimes used to treat insomnia and anxiety, or before and after surgery. Both the capsule and liquid forms of chloral hydrate are sometimes used to facilitate sexual assault. Capsules of chloral hydrate are often stolen from pharmacies, while the liquid form can be created from common household chemicals. The drug has a slight bitter taste.This drug’s sedating effects are much stronger when combined with alcohol. Effects appear 15-30 minutes after the drug is administered and can last several hours. Common effects of chloral hydrate include:
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash and itchiness
  • Confusion
  • Depressed respiration and heart rate

Protective Measures

Certain protective measures can lower the chances of becoming a victim of a date rape drug. Because these substances are often added to alcoholic beverages, you should never accept a drink from someone you don’t know well, and always watch if a drink is being prepared for you. Do not leave your drink unattended. Don’t drink from punch bowls or other shared containers, as they may already contain drugs.

Drinks that contain drugs can sometimes taste salty or bitter, so never drink anything that tastes strange. If possible, have a nondrinking friend accompany you to a party, bar, or other similar setting. Most importantly, always get help right away if you feel drunk without cause, or if you feel like the effects of your drink are stronger than usual.