web space | free hosting | Business Hosting | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting

Date Rape Drugs

SEXUAL ASSAULT & SUBSTANCE ABUSE: A DEVASTATING COMBINATION
(This article originally appeared in the September 1997 issue of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Gazette police journal)
by: Paul Henry Danylewich, White Tiger Street Defense

Janet, a 19 year old college student decides to attend a weekend campus party with some of her friends from school. She is a quiet and shy girl by nature, and has decided to try harder to make new friends. She awakes the following day in the late afternoon. Janet has a terrible headache and can't seem to remember anything. She finds herself alone in a cheap motel room. She realizes that she has been the victim of a sexual assault, but cannot remember anything about the prior evening. Scared and confused, she is further traumatized by imagining the worst. She has no idea of who the perpetrator might have been, and what actually happened to her. Janet considers reporting the crime to the police, but declines. She feels that she would appear silly, not being able to recall any aspects of the incident.

What happened to Janet is not that uncommon. Sexual assault among college students especially at social functions and parties often involves drug or alcohol consumption by both the victim (forced or voluntary) and the offender. The obvious impact this has results in an impairment of judgement for both victim and offender. Janet met two male students that she had recognized from one of her classes. She felt they were "nice guys". As they spoke about school and other issues, one of them slipped a pill into her drink. Janet's friends left the party, but did not tell her. Her friends thought that she probably would not have wanted to leave with them so early in the evening, since it looked like she was having a good time. Janet left the party believing the two young men were driving her back to her residence. The drugs began to take affect about 20 minutes after, while she was in the offender's vehicle. Finally, Janet lost consciousness and was raped.

Gamma Hydroxybutyrate and Rohypnol

Recently there has been an increase in the number of substance related sexual assaults throughout the United States. Many experts suggest that this may pose a new dilemma in Canada within the near future. Offenders use drugs and alcohol to sedate their victims. A wide variety of substances are being used to aid in the commission of these crimes. Many Canadian and American law enforcement officials are unaware of this newly emerging threat to public safety. Two substances that are frequently used in substance related sexual assault include Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (also referred to as GHB) and Rohypnol ("Roofies"), the trade name for flunitrazepam.

GHB is a central nervous system depressant used to treat narcolepsy and alcoholism developed Dr Henry Laborit of France in 1961. It is still available in some European countries as a prescription drug. GHB was sold in U.S. health stores in the 1980's. There had been controversial claims that the drug stimulated human growth hormones, as well as aiding in fat reduction. This made it an extremely popular commodity for body builders. Interestingly, it is still popular with many athletes who feel it improves their quality of sleep. Recently, it has been experienced renewed popularity as a recreational drug offering an "alcohol like" high without the "hang-over" effect. There have also been unsubstantiated claims linking it to improved and enhanced sexual performance. In 1990, The U S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the over the counter sale of GHB in the United States. It is currently illegal to manufacture or sell the substance commercially. However according to sources, it is still legal to make and possess for personal use in many states. Recipes for producing the substance can be found on the inter-net. All that is needed is a kitchen stove, a pot big enough to hold 2 quarts of liquid, some ph paper. The chemicals used to make the drug can be easily obtained: GAMMA BUTYROL LACTONE (wood cleaner) and SODIUM HYDROXIDE NaOH (caustic soda). Also known as 'liquid ecstacy", "soap" or "Grievous Bodily Harm", GHB often appears in an odorless clear liquid form often sold in clear plastic "spring water" bottles. The substance has a strong salty taste. There have been reported cases where suppliers add food coloring to change the color of the liquid. It can easily be slipped into someone's drink. Patrons who frequent "rave parties" or night clubs may pay $10 - $20 per "cap". This refers to the cap of the bottle which is filled and ingested orally, similar to a shot of whisky. In low doses individuals may experience amnesia, hypnotic effects, drowsiness, dis-inhibition or impaired judgement. Higher doses may cause lack of consciousness, slowed heart beat, seizure-like activity, decreased respiratory effort or coma. When the drug is mixed with other substances or alcohol it is likely that these effects will be more severe. Withdrawal symptoms may include tremors and audio- visual hallucinations. It is clear that the majority of young victims that experiment with this drug have no idea of what the actual consequences will be. There is no quality control. Therefore, dosage strengths will vary greatly from suppliers. Furthermore, the drug's effects will also be determined by the user's own body weight Effects of the drug would take place about 15 to 30 minutes after ingestion producing a "high" for between 1 to 3 hours. The drug is traceable in blood from between 2- 4 hours after ingestion, and in urine until excreted. Unfortunately, most standard urine tests do not screen for GHB. It was only since 1994 that researchers discovered a screening method for this drug. Police officials in many southern states express frustration since it is very difficult to detect. This is further compounded by the fact that in many states it is not illegal to possess. The Internet recipes and easily obtainable ingredients result in many home kitchen GHB production labs.

Rohypnol is primarily used as a prescription sleeping medication legally available in over 60 countries, mostly in South America and Europe. It is also used in certain countries as a pre-anesthetic before surgery or other medical procedures. The drug is illegal in the United States Recent media attention has focused on these two substances. However, it is important to note that many sedating substances have been used to accomplish the same goal in the past such as alcohol, common cold pills, other sedatives and other illegal narcotics.
Rohypnol is manufactured by the Swiss based pharmaceutical company F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. It is a white tablet that contains the name 'Roche" and an encircled "1" or "2" on one side plus a single or cross score on the other side. The drug is often sold in its original bubble wrap pharmaceutical packaging. When placed in someone's drink, the substance can not be detected by taste, sight or smell. Symptoms of Rohypnol intoxication may include the following:

* Impaired judgement

* Impaired motor skills

* Dis-inhibition

* Amnesia

* Drowsiness

* Dizziness

* Confusion

* Excitability and perhaps aggression in some users
*(Source: Hoffmann-La Roche)

These symptoms may be intensified when the drug is taken with other drugs, or alcohol. Symptoms of an overdose may include the following:
Mild overdose

* Drowsiness

* Mental confusion

* Lethargy

Serious overdose

* Poor coordination

* Reduced reflexes

* Very low blood pressure

* Coma, or Death (rare)
*(Source: Hoffmann-La Roche)

It essentially causes an anti-anxiety, sedative, or hypnotic action. Similar to a number of other classic benzodiazepines (Valium, Centrax), when this drug is mixed with beer or alcohol, it offers a cheap but long-lasting "high". This "high" would have a sedative and forgetful effect. When combined with alcohol, it enhances uninhibited effects. This development often leads to a loss of memory, loss of inhibition, impaired motor control, may severely alter mental judgement and often results in a loss of consciousness for the user.

Termed by many as "the date rape drug", Rohypnol has been used to aid in the commission of various types of sexual assaults. Abusers most often include middle school, high school, college students, night club patrons, street gang members and drug abusers. Actual incidents have been successfully prosecuted in south Florida courts. One case involved (state of Florida vs. Mark Perez) the defendant who claimed to have used Rohypnol to rape over 20 women. In a second case (state of Florida vs. J. Hamilton, L. Nieves & E. Pedro), three juveniles were convicted as adults of a brutal gang rape of a 14 year old girl who they had incapacitated using Rohypnol. Girls as young as 12 years old have been victims of predators using Rohypnol. Officials in south Florida are beginning to witness the miss-use of this drug in the commission of other crimes such as robbery, theft and D.W.I. as well.

Carolyn R. Glynn, Vice President of Public Affairs at Hoffmann-La Roche in Nutley, New Jersey mentions that poly-drug abuse and criminal violence are pervasive societal problems, and points out that Rohypnol is only one substance that is being mis-used in this way. Glynn also states that other substances including alcohol, scopolamine and GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate) have also been reported as being used to commit sexual assault. She quotes a recent study conducted between July and November 1996 were 77 laboratory tests were conducted on rape survivors' urine samples at the request of law enforcement officials. Only one case was shown to have been Rohypnol, while 32 contained other controlled substances. Unfortunately, such a study may not accurately reflect the facts. Firstly, it should be noted that typically only one in every 10-20 sexual assaults are actually reported to police. Furthermore, rape survivors under such odd circumstances of being unable to recall the rape would even be less likely to report it to police. Therefore, no absolute conclusions can be made based on the urine sample study.

However, law enforcement officials in the state of Florida see Rohypnol as a much greater threat. In fact, it has become the fastest growing abused drug in southern Florida. Imported by illegal drug traffickers from South America, "Roofies" is sold on the street for between $3.- $5. per pill. In 1995, Rohypnol seizures by Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) officials in Miami totaled 42,269. In 1996, Miami D.E.A. seizures increased to 136,107. Recently the United States Senate introduced legislation through Senator Bidden to reschedule flunitrazepam from a schedule IV drug to a schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substance Act. A schedule I drug classification defines the substance as having a high potential for abuse, and having no current medical use in the United States. Oklahoma State Statutes were amended in July 1995 to reschedule flunitrazepam from a schedule IV to a schedule I drug. Florida is also attempting to reschedule the drug as well to a schedule I (House Bill 49, Senate Bill 414).

Hoffmann-La Roche makes available a free drug testing service for cases of sexual assault in which Rohypnol is believed to be involved. These tests are able to detect Rohypnol in the victims urine for at least 72 hours after ingestion. A victim who thinks they have been drugged, should request that a hospital, rape crisis center or police service run a urine test as soon as possible testing for flunitrazepam, Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), barbiturates, benzodiazepines and other sedating substances. . A 2 mg. dose after ingestion would incapacitate an average female for between eight to twelve hours, (Cooper City Police Dept., Cooper City, FL.) The drug begins to take full effect about 20 to 30 minutes after ingestion. The sedation will peak in about one or two hours after ingestion. The pill is currently available in three basic dosage units: 0.5 mg, 1 mg., and 2 mg. An individual that has been drugged may appear disproportionately inebriated in relation to the amount of alcohol they have consumed. A victim might have experienced a black-out period where she is unable to recall certain events.

Prevention Strategies

A. Make certain to keep your drink with you at all times
B. Do not take drinks from strangers other than a bartender or waiter
C. At parties do not accept open container drinks
D. College-high school guidance counselors and administrators should be briefed on this issue by police crime prevention or juvenile division officers.

Police Response
Anyone who claims they have consumed a sedative like substance in such a situation should be taken to a hospital emergency room as soon as possible. A request for a urine test which tests for the presence of sedating substances should be performed as quickly as possible. Chances of collecting evidence is best when the sample is obtained soon after it has been ingested.
The inability to recall certain fundamental facts of a sexual assault may bring skepticism from law enforcement officers unfamiliar or inexperienced in dealing with this issue, sensitivity and caution is needed.
For more information on Rohypnol contact:
Public Affairs Division of Hoffmann La Roche Inc. at 201-562-2213
Law enforcement officers can obtain a special wallet size card to help identify Rohypnol by calling Mr Hewett of Hoffmann La Roche at 1-800-720-1076 or 201-562-2213.