Beware the dangers of alcohol, date rape drugs

When you’re out at a bar or a party, how much attention do you pay to what’s in your glass? If you’re not careful, those drinks could lead to trouble.

“Yes, definitely. We’ve had people come in highly suspecting that they’d been roofied or received some sort of drug,” said Dr. Jamie Horton, a counselor at The Sex Abuse Treatment Center in Honolulu. “It has definitely been a factor.”

gina date rape signs

Just how much of a factor is hard to track. Date rape drugs, as they’re often called, are usually odorless, tasteless, colorless — even hard to detect unless there’s immediate post-assault reporting and testing.

“We have had several victims that had suspected that,” Horton said, “and sometimes it’s hard to know because of the alcohol use. There’s enough alcohol use that blurs the picture or there isn’t analysis that’s done afterwards.”

Researchers for the U.S. Department of Justice found drugs in four to five percent of sex assaults nationwide. But other statistics show victims think drugs were also behind nearly 25 percent of assaults when alcohol was also used. Many never report it at all.

“A victim will feel so ashamed that they were out, that they were drinking, or that they disobeyed their parents that they won’t even go and get the help they need,” Horton said.

date rape drugs
Related Link: Fact sheet on date rape drugs

According to the U.S. Department of Health, the most common date rape drugs are rohypnol or “roofies” — an illegal substance – as well as GHB and ketamine, which are legal for other uses but potentially deadly when abused.

“It can make someone incapacitated and absolutely have no memory of what happened, so it’s definitely something to be concerned about,” Horton said.

GHB can cause a salty effect, some are ground into a white powder that could be seen before dissolving, and roofies with dye may change the color of a drink.

Symptoms of drugging include loss of muscle control, problems talking, problems seeing, and stomach problems.

“Anytime you leave your drink behind,” said Alana Peacott-Ricardos of The Sex Abuse Treatment Center, “it’s probably something you don’t want to do.”

gina date rape symptoms

That drink itself remains the top tool for sex assault predators, with or without a drug.

“The big statistic is over half of the offenders are using alcohol at the time of the assault,” Peacott-Ricardos said.

“Perpetrators are very opportunistic,” Horton said, “and so they will look for that, maybe even trying to make that happen by offering drinks.”

The Sex Abuse Treatment Center is spreading the word in a new campaign for Sex Assault Awareness Month, getting everyone from younger partygoers to bartenders and businesses on board with what to watch out for and to remember respect.

“You listen to others, you understand other people may have limits,” Peacott-Ricardos explained. “You don’t drop drugs into a drink, you don’t feed people excessive amounts of alcohol, you watch out for your friends when you’re in a bar or at a party.”

gina date rape protect

Other tips to reduce risk include not accepting drinks from other people, open containers yourself and don’t share drinks.

“Bartenders and bar staff have been really open to this concept and this idea,” Peacott-Ricardos said, “so approaching them and saying you feel uncomfortable, most bartenders will say who is this and ask questions. They’re not just going to sit there and let things unfold.”

And, beware, even when you think you can let your guard down.

“It’s not that person who is hiding in the bushes, and it’s not necessarily some weirdo in the bar dropping drugs into someone’s drink,” Peacott-Ricardos said. “It could be somebody that you know and that you know very well, who is crossing that line into sexual violence.”

blog comments powered by Disqus