Sexual And Reproductive Health
The Real Deal About 'Date' Rape Drugs: Advice For Teens
The Real Deal About 'Date' Rape Drugs: Advice For Teens
What you don't know about the "date rape" drugs can harm you.
InteliHealth Medical Content
The Real Deal About "Date" Rape Drugs: Advice For Teens
Q. What's up with "date rape" drugs?
A."Date rape" drugs are illegal drugs that are sometimes used to overpower victims and sexually assault them. Two of the most common date-rape drugs are GHB and Rohypnol (pronounced row-HIP-nole). There also are many other drugs being used that mimic the effects of GHB and Rohypnol.
Q. How do they work?
A. These drugs make their victim unable to resist an attack and also cause memory loss. GHB makes a person feel really happy and exited, or drunk. It was once sold in health-food stores as a performance-enhancing supplement for body builders. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned GHB since 1990.
Rohypnol is a powerful sleeping pill that is about 10 times stronger than Valium. It is neither approved for medical use, nor made or sold legally in the United States. However, it is made and prescribed legally in other countries for the treatment of insomnia (difficulty sleeping). Then it is illegally smuggled into the United States. It is often used with alcohol or other drugs such as cocaine or heroin. Being under the influence of this drug is sometimes called being "roached out."
Q. What do they look like?
A. GHB is a clear liquid or white powder that is often mixed with a carbonated, alcohol, or health food drink. It is also called "G," "georgia home boy," "liquid ecstasy" (not to be confused with ecstasy), "somatomax," "scoop," or "grievous bodily harm."
Rohypnol tablets are white, although street versions may have a brownish-pink color. They will have the word "ROCHE" on one side and an encircled "1" or "2" (depending on the dosage) on the other. For the most part, the pills have no color, smell or taste once they are dissolved in alcohol, soft drinks, water or any other liquid. A few users have reported a slightly bitter taste when the drug is mixed with alcohol.
Other names for Rohypnol you might see or hear about include: rophies, roofies, R2, roofenol, Roche, roachies, la rocha, rope, rib, circles, Mexican valium, roach-2, roopies, and ropies.
Q. Who uses GHB and Rohypnol?
A. Police departments have reported GHB use during high school and college parties, raves, concerts and spring-break beach festivals. In Michigan, a 15-year-old girl died after taking the drug, and several teen-agers have been hospitalized elsewhere in the country. Increasing numbers of teen-agers and young adults use Rohypnol to create a "dramatic" high, usually in combination with alcohol. Criminals use both GHB and Rohypnol to weaken victims before assaulting them sexually.
It is important that you educate yourself about these drugs and learn how best to protect yourself. Although the following paragraphs address the increasing use of Rohypnol throughout the United States, both GHB and Rohypnol are dangerous drugs and using either of them can be devastating.
Q. Why has there been an increase in teen use of Rohypnol?
A. First, Rohypnol is a low-cost drug, usually sold at less than $5 per tablet. Second, many young people wrongly believe it's a relatively harmless drug and that it is safe to buy because it comes in a pre-sealed, tamper-proof bubble pack. Third, many people mistakenly think that the drug cannot be detected with a urine test.
Q. What happens if a person takes Rohypnol?
A. This drug can cause a person to do and say things she normally would not want to. Because it has no strong taste or odor, victims whose drinks have been poisoned with Rohypnol don't realize what is happening.
Within 10 to 30 minutes after taking Rohypnol, a person may feel dizzy and disoriented. She will become confused and unable to make clear decisions. She may appear to be drunk, have bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. A person will feel too hot and too cold at the same time or feel nauseated. Ultimately, she will find it difficult to speak and move, as she slowly loses coordination and control of her body before passing out.
These effects peak within two hours, and can last up to eight hours. When combined with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine or other drugs, Rohypnol is particularly dangerous because it leaves the victim with no memory of what has happened. "Blackouts" lasting eight to 24 hours are commonly reported among victims who become intoxicated on a combination of alcohol and Rohypnol.
Q. Is Rohypnol addictive?
A. Yes. A person can become physically dependent on this drug. Withdrawal symptoms include headache, muscle pain, confusion, hallucinations and convulsions. Seizures can occur up to a week after a person stops using Rohypnol.
Q. Why is Rohypnol called a "date rape" drug?
A. Because of its ability to make victims lose self control and forget what happened during significant periods of time, Rohypnol has been used by criminals to rape unsuspecting victims. Girls and women around the country have reported being raped after Rohypnol was slipped into their drinks by their attackers, causing them to let down their guard, fall asleep, or even become unconscious. Because it has no taste or odor, the victims usually don't realize what is happening. Rohypnol also has been called the "forget pill," "trip-and-fall," and "minderaser."
Q. What can I do to avoid becoming a victim of a date-rape drug?
Don't drink alcohol or use other drugs at social functions. They can affect your judgment and make it harder for you to stay in control.
If you do drink, do not accept an open drink from anyone you don't know well enough to trust completely.
At a bar or club, accept drinks only from the bartender, waiter or waitress.
If you accept a drink from someone you do not know well, make sure it comes from an unopened container (bottle or can) and that you open it yourself.
Never put your drink down and leave it unattended, even to go to the restroom.
Do not drink from punch bowls.
Remember that these drugs are odorless, colorless and tasteless and can be added to ANY drink even water.
Tell other females you know about the effects of these dangerous drugs.
If you think that you or a friend has been a victim, notify the authorities immediately.
You can find out more about date rape drugs by contacting the National Women's Health Information Center (800-994-9662) or the following organizations:
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Phone: (888) NIH-NIDA (644-6432)
American Council for Drug Education
Phone: (800) 488-3784
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Phone: (301) 656-3920
Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse
Phone: (401) 444-1817
Last updated September 08, 2011