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Date Rape Drugs and Alcohol

person adding a drug into a drink

Young adults dance the night away at all-night parties commonly referred to as raves. Although raves may seem like innocent fun, some party-goers bring dangerous substances to these parties. Together, these substances are called club drugs; individually they are sometimes referred to as "G," "Roofies," "Special K," "Acid," or "Ecstasy."


GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyerate)

Alcohol and Rape

Sexual Assault Combined with Drugs and Alcohol

Sexual Assault Statistics

Safe Partying


What is it?

  • Rohypnol is a sleeping pill marketed by Roche Pharmaceuticals. On the street it is often call "roofies," "roche," "R-2," "rib" and "rope." The drug is a very potent tranquilizer similar to Valium, but much, much stronger.
  • Rohypnol produces a sedative effect, amnesia, muscle relaxation and a slowing of psychomotor responses.
  • The drug is often distributed on the street in its bubble packaging which makes it appear legitimate and legal. Rohypnol is reportedly sold for $2.00 to $4.00 per tablet.
  • Originally, illicit use of Rohypnol was reported in Europe in the late 1970's. Police sources in Florida and Texas reported first seeing "roofies" in the United States in the early 1990's.

What are the Effects?

The Rohypnol side effects begin approximately 20-30 minutes after taking the drug and peak within two hours. Depending on the dosage, the effects usually last up to 8 hours.

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Black outs
  • Loss of memory
  • Sedation
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Problems with vision
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Disinhibition
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Fearlessness
  • A.K.A. Date Rape Drug

One of the most common abuse patterns is to use Rohypnol as a rape drug. Rohypnol is known as a rape drug because perpetrators reportedly slip it into victim's drinks causing them to blackout. Rohypnol takes away a victim's normal inhibitions, leaving the victim helpless and blocking the memory of a rape or assault.

Only 10 minutes after ingesting Rohypnol, a person may feel dizzy, disoriented, too hot or cold and nauseated. They may also have a difficult time speaking and eventually, the victim will pass out. The person will then have no recollection of the events that occurred.

Mixing "roofies" with alcohol can be more dangerous and may cause respiratory depression, aspiration and possibly death.



GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyerate)

What is it?

Originally developed as an anesthetic, GHB is a naturally occurring 4-carbon molecule sold in powdered, liquid or capsule form. On the street it can be known as: "G," "Liquid X," "Liquid E," "Scoop," "Soap," "Gook," "Grievous Bodily Harm," "Georgia Home Boy," "Natural Sleep-500," "Easy Lay" or "Gamma 10." It usually is tasteless, but may be recognized at times by a salty taste.

GHB was formerly sold by health-food stores and gyms as a sleep aid, anabolic agent, fat burner, enhancer of muscle definition and natural psychedelic. GHB was first synthesized in 1960 by a French researcher. It has been used in Europe as a general anesthetic, a treatment for insomnia and narcolepsy, an aid to childbirth and a treatment for alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

In the last few years it has been gaining popularity as a "recreational" drug offering an alcohol-like, hangover free "high" with possible prosexual effects (disinhibition often occurs and inhibitions are suppressed).

What are the effects?

GHB side effects are usually felt within 5 to 20 minutes after ingestion and they usually last no more than two to three hours. The effects of GHB are unpredictable and very dose-dependent.

Sleep paralysis, agitation, delusions and hallucination have all been reported. Other effects include excessive salivation, decreased gag reflex and vomiting in 30 to 50 percent of users. Dizziness may occur for up to two weeks post ingestion. GHB can cause severe reactions when combined with alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates, anticonvulsant and allergy remedies.

In November 1990, the Food and Drug Administration issues a warning that GHB can cause seizures, coma, respiratory arrest and death, especially when mixed with alcoholic beverages.

The side effects of GHB are:

  • Abrupt, intense drowsiness
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Vomiting
  • Slower, deep respiration
  • Giddiness, silliness and dizziness
  • Temporary amnesia
  • Interference with mobility and verbal coherence
  • Diarrhea
  • Semi-consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Coma
  • Sleep-walking
  • Death
  • A.K.A. Date Rape Drug

One of the most common abuse patterns of GHB is by rapists slipping the drug into a victim's drink (usually alcohol). Within a few moments, the victim will appear drunk and helpless. Often the perpetrator will become a "good Samaritan" and offer to escort the victim home. When the victim regains consciousness, he or she has no memory of the events.

Op. Ed. Drug Topics. March 25, 1991
Hubler, S. Los Angeles Times. November 2, 1993
Mamelack, M. Neurosci Biobehavior Rev. 1989
Facts and Comparisons
Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drugs and Crime Clearinghouse


Alcohol and Rape

Though never an excuse or cause for rape, alcohol can be part of the equation. Alcohol can affect both men and women, but most importantly, it also affects those skills that can protect a person from being involved in a sexual assault. In particular, there are four useful skills and those skills form the word RAPE.

Realize what situations place you in danger of committing rape or being a victim of rape.

Avoid and manage conflicts with partners and intimates.

Perceive clearly what others are doing.

Establish and communicate your desires and limits about sex.

When drinking alcohol, people's thinking can get distorted. Therefore, they can miss important signals such as voice or behavioral changes. They are also less likely to avoid or talk their way out of a conflict.

Communication is very important, but men and women who have been consuming alcohol can be less able to communicate what they want and do not want out of a sexual relationship. The odds that "maybe" or "no" will be interpreted wrongly increase when either party has been drinking.

Some perpetrators may even push others to drink so the victim will be less likely to resist physical or emotional pressure to engage in sexual activity.

Regardless of how much a person drinks, no one is ever justified in forcing sex if the other party resists, says "no," or is under the influence of alcohol.


Also see Sex Under the Influence


Sexual Assault combined with Drugs and Alcohol

The dangers and realities of sexual assault are exacerbated when drugs and alcohol become involved. Alcohol and drugs can inhibit resistance, increase aggression and impair decision-making skills.

Sexual assault and acquaintance rape are types of violence that are most likely to occur in social settings that foster rape-supportive attitudes and norms.

A study published in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy reported that of those students who had been victims of some type of sexual aggression while in college--from rape to intimidation to illegal restraint--68 percent of their male assailants had been drinking at the time of the attack.

Alcohol and drug use exaggerates problems with misinterpretation of sexual intent and can be used to justify assault. Studies show that many college men believe that alcohol increases arousal and legitimates non consensual aggression. They also report that many college men believe that women who had two or more drinks are more interested than other women in having sex.

Also see:
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Sex Under the Influence
K-State Care Center


Sexual Assault Statistics

More 75% of college students who experience unwanted intercourse are under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident.

Sixty percent of college women who have acquired sexually transmitted diseases (including AIDS) were under the influence of alcohol at the time they had intercourse.

Between 15 and 30 percent of college women have been the victim of acquaintance rape at some point in their lives.

Two-thirds of rape victims between the ages of 18 and 29 know their attacker and over 60 percent of rapes occur in residences.

Also see:
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Sex Under the Influence
K-State Care Center


Safe Partying

There are simple steps that can help reduce the risks of a substance-related sexual assault:

  1. Do not leave beverages unattended.
  2. Do not take any beverages, including alcohol, from someone you do not know well and trust.
  3. At a bar or club, accept drinks only from the bartender, waiter or waitress. If someone offers to buy you a drink, go with them to the bar and watch the bartender make your drink.
  4. Do not accept open container drinks from anyone. (This includes punch bowls.)
  5. Be alert to the behavior of friends. Anyone appearing disproportionately intoxicated in relation to the amount of alcohol they have consumed may have consumed a tampered beverage.
  6. Anyone who suspects that they have ingested a tampered drink or sedative-like substance should be taken to a hospital emergency room or should call 911 for an ambulance. Be sure to ask for a urine sample and try to keep a sample of the beverage for analysis.
  7. Party in groups, never leave a party without accounting for those you came with and always plan a safe ride home.

"When Drugs are Used for Rape" a pamphlet produced by DC Rape Crisis Center

Also see: National Sexual Violence Resource Center: drug-facilitated sexual assault