Drug Related Sexual Assaults
A notable increase has occurred in recent years in the
frequency of drug-facilitated sexual assaults. The victims of these
sexual assaults (most frequently women) are often older adolescents
and young adults at bars, nightclubs, rave clubs, and social
The Use of Alcohol
It is important to bear in mind that the use of recreational
drugs to facilitate rape and sexual assault is not a new
phenomenon. Having been used almost as long as recorded history,
alcohol remains the most widely used date rape drug.
“Date Rape” or “Predatory”
The use of “date rape” or “predatory”
drugs has become increasingly prevalent. As these drugs have become
more sophisticated in their effectiveness, they have been used more
frequently to facilitate rape. They are increasingly used as
“knock-out drugs” to render female victims helpless and
amnesic. The typical tactic for committing drug-facilitated sexual
assaults is to slip the drug unknowingly into the drink of a
female. The victim usually loses consciousness in a short period of
time, and often has no memory of the event.
Rohypnol is Hoffman-LaRoche’s registered trade
name for Flunitrazepam, a
benzodiazepine drug in the same family of medications as
Valium and Xanax.
It is manufactured in Switzerland and is legal in 64 countries
as a prescription drug for sleep disorders and psychiatric cases.
It is 10 times more potent than Valium.
Rohypnol has never been approved for any medical use in
the United States. It is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or
possess Rohypnol in the United States. Rohypnol is a controlled
substance in Schedule IV of the Federal Controlled Substances
Under federal law, simple possession of Rohypnol to another
person without the person’s knowledge and with intent to
commit a crime of violence is punishable by up to 20 years in
prison and a fine. Possession and misuse of Rohypnol is also a
violation of state criminal statutes in many states.
Rohypnol is similar in size, shape, and color to
aspirin. The pill is a small white tablet that is single or
cross-scored on one side and has the word “Roche” and a
circled number 1 or 2 on the other side. They are sold in
pre-sealed, foil-wrapped “bubble packs” of one or two
Rohypnol dissolves easily in juice, coffee, and
carbonated and alcoholic beverages. It was traditionally colorless,
odorless, and tasteless when dissolved in a liquid. The
manufacturer, however, has reformulated it so that it imparts an
easily identifiable blue color to clear beverages and a haziness to
Rohypnol is a potent sedative. It usually takes effect
within 20 minutes after ingestion, and the effects may last for up
to 8-10 hours. Rohypnol may cause dizziness, disorientation,
uninhibited behavior, impaired judgment, and reduced levels of
consciousness. The victim may act and look like someone who is
drunk. Their speech may be slurred and they may have difficulty
walking, or they may be rendered unconscious.
It is dangerous to mix Rohypnol with alcohol or other drugs.
The combination can produce extremely low blood pressure,
respiratory depression, difficulty breathing, coma, or even death.
Rohypnol may also produce complete or partial amnesia about
the events that occur after it is ingested. Rohypnol is a
low cost drug, often sold at less than $5.00 per tablet.
Among the street names for Rohypnol are Roofies,
Rophies, Roaches, Forget Pill, Poor Man’s Quaalude, Lunch
Money (referring to the drug’s low cost on the street),
Pappas or Potatoes (referring to the mental capacity of someone
under the influence of the drug), Whiteys, Dulcitas, Negatives or
Minuses (referring to the markings on a 1 mg. tablet), R-2s,
Roach-2s, Circles, Rope, Rib, Trip-and-Fall, Mind-Erasers, Mexican
GHB is gamma-hydroxybutziate. It was originally used as
an anesthetic on humans in Europe in the 1950’s. It has never
been approved for use in the United States. Most of the GHB
being used today is manufactured illegally by “kitchen
chemists” by mixing various chemical ingredients, including
solvents and caustic soda. Because there are significant
differences in the purity, concentration, and potency of various
batches, home-brewed GHB can be especially dangerous. There
can be a very narrow margin between the dose that will produce
intoxication effects and the amount that will induce serious
life-threatening effects. Manufacturing instructions for making
GHB can be easily obtained over the Internet.
GHB comes in a lumpy white powder form or as a clear
liquid. It can be snorted, smoked or mixed in drinks. When
dissolved in a drink, it is colorless and odorless. It may have a
slight, salty aftertaste,however. GHB is frequently
distributed at clubs, bars, raves, and other parties. It is usually
doled out by capfuls, teaspoons, or “swigs.” It may be
sold or passed around in containers of varying sizes, including
sports bottles, designer water bottles, eye dropper bottles, baby
food jars, and plastic water jugs.
The effects of GHB may include dizziness, nausea,
vomiting, disorientation, seizures, respiratory depression, intense
drowsiness, unconsciousness, and coma. It acts as a depressant on
the central nervous system. The effects of the drug start with
giddiness but lead to a deep sleep accompanied by amnesia.
Among the street names for GHB are Grievous Bodily Harm
(GHB) Liquid X, Liquid E, Liquid Ecstasy, Easy Lay, G, Vita-G,
G-juice, Georgia Home Boy, Great Hormones, Somatomax, Bedtime
Scoop, Soap, Gook, Gamma 10, and Energy Drink.
GHB usually costs $5.00-$10.00 per dose. Federal
legislation enacted in February, 2000, places GHB on Schedule 1 of
the Controlled Substances Act, the most strictly regulated drugs.
Anyone who possesses, manufacturers, or distributes GHB can be
imprisoned up to 20 years.
Recommendations for Women
· Limit alcoholic drinks to a maximum of one or two per
· Do not gulp alcoholic beverages.
· Be wary of opened alcoholic beverages offered by
strangers or male acquaintances
· Let your date be the first to drink from the
punchbowl at a bar, club, or rave.
· Avoid group drinking and particularly avoid
participating in drinking games
· Check with local police departments; they are usually
a good source of information about the location of bars, clubs, and
areas where drug-facilitated sexual assault is known to have
· When at an unfamiliar bar, directly observe your
drink being poured by the bartender.
· If your opened beverage tastes, looks, or smells
strange, do not drink it.
· After returning to your table after dancing, using
the restroom, or making a telephone call, obtain a fresh
· If you feel giddy or lightheaded at a bar, club, or
party, get assistance
· If you arrived with friends, a prearranged plan
should be in place to check on each other visually and verbally
before separately departing a bar, club, or party
· If one of your friends appears to be intoxicated, get
help (consider calling 911).