14th Feb is Valentines Day: Beware of date rape drugs

We often hear of cases of alleged rapes. The girl was given some drink following which she had no recall of what happened. Once caught, often the defense of the accused is that the girl was a party to the sexual act.  Such cases are the result of date rape drugs, used to spike soft drinks or alcoholic drinks. Their use is common.

Although alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, over-the-counter sleeping pills and anti-histamines, even cold medications can be used, the term “date rape drug” classically applies to any of the three drugs: GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid), Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), popularly called “Roofies” and ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride). Rohypnol is legal in Europe and Mexico, but is banned in the US and India.

In 2013, ketamine hydrochloride was shifted from Schedule H to Schedule X of the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules to prevent its easy availability and misuse. It has been listed as psychotropic substance under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act

Several factors make these drugs desirable to sexual predators. They often have no color, smell or taste and so can be easily slipped into drinks and food without the victim’s knowledge. They are very fast acting; as all traces of the drugs leave the body within 72 hours of intake, they are not found in any routine toxicology screen or blood test.

The victim is rendered unconscious but responsive with little or no memory of what happens while the drug is active in their system. The drugs also make the person act without inhibition. They are incapable of thinking clearly or of making appropriate decision. This makes for a very passive victim; one who is still able to play a role in what is happening but is unable to refuse and will have no clear memory of what happened, the assailant, or the events surrounding the assault. Without any memory of events, the victim is often unaware that they have even been raped, and if they are aware or have suspicions they make very poor witnesses.

Here are a few tips to protect from date rape.

  1. Don’t accept any drinks from other people, except trusted friends.
  2. Open containers yourself.
  3. Keep your drink with you at all times, even when you go to the bathroom.
  4. Don’t share drinks
  5. Don’t drink from punch bowls or other large, common, open containers. They may already have drugs in them
  6. Don’t drink anything that tastes or smells strange. Sometimes, GHB tastes salty.
  7. Have a non-drinking friend with you to make sure nothing happens (if you are consuming alcohol).
  8. If you think that you have been drugged and raped: Go to the police station or hospital right away. Get a urine test as soon as possible. The drugs leave your system quickly. Rohypnol leaves your body 72 hours after you take it. GHB leaves the body in 12 hours. Don’t urinate before getting help. Don’t douche, bathe, or change clothes before getting help. These things may give evidence of the rape.

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