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Staff writer

What you need to know

Alcohol is the most common date-rape drug, involved in up to 90 percent of all sexual assaults. Even if the victim voluntarily used alcohol or drugs, sexual assault is a crime. If a person is unable to give consent by reason of being physically helpless (including being too intoxicated), having sexual intercourse with her or him is rape (RCW 9A.44.050).

A victim’s physical reaction to a date-rape drug varies depending on the type and amount consumed, the victim’s metabolism, the presence of alcohol and other factors. Most date-rape drugs do not stay in the victim’s system long, so testing should be conducted as soon as possible.

You may have been a victim if you have experienced any of the following symptoms:

• Feel quickly and seriously intoxicated in response to a small amount of alcohol

• Wake up feeling fuzzy or very hung over

• Have memory lapses; can’t account for a period of time

• Feel as though someone may have had sex with you, but can’t remember all or any of the incident

Protecting yourself

• Open or prepare your own drink and keep it in your sight and covered.

• Do not drink from a punch bowl, keg, beer bong, or shared/exchanged drink.

• Don’t drink anything with an unusual odor, taste or appearance. Avoid beverages that taste flat, soapy, or salty.

• Trust your gut – if a situation or drink doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

• Watch out for your friends and ask them to watch out for you.

• Be assertive with your words and body language. Know your limits and communicate them clearly.

• Drink in moderation or not at all.

If you are a victim

• Get to a safe place and call a family member, friend, advocate, hospital and/or other law enforcement.

• If you wish to report the incident, or if you are unsure, do not shower, brush your teeth or change your clothes. This may destroy physical evidence.

• Seek medical attention for any possible injuries and to be tested for pregnancy and STD’s, whether you wish to report the assault or not.

• Date rape drugs can be found in urine for up to 72 hours, depending on the drug. This test is not routinely performed, so ask for it.

• For help call Lutheran Community Services 24-hour sexual assault crisis hotline at 624-7273.

Common date-rape drugs

Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam)

Street names: Roofies, Mexican Valium, Roaches, Rope.

Appearance: Dime-sized white tablets, which may be crushed into powder. Odorless, colorless and tasteless. Dissolves quickly in alcohol or other liquids.

Ingested: Oral ingestion. Effects appear in 15-20 minutes and last up to eight hours.

Symptoms: Extreme muscle paralysis, black outs, dizziness, confusion, amnesia, sedation, hot/cold flashes, tremors, headache, impaired judgment, memory impairment for up to six days.

Important facts: Ten times more potent than Valium. When mixed with alcohol, effects of the drug are tripled. Only detectible for up to 60 hours after ingestion. Illegal in every state and possession is a federal offense.

GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate)

Street names: Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid E, Georgia Home Boy, Oxy-Sleep, Scoop.

Appearance: Usually clear liquid, can be in powder form. Made from common household ingredients. Odorless, colorless, may have slight salty taste. Dissolves quickly and completely in liquid.

Ingested: Oral ingestion. Effects appear in five to 20 minutes and last up to four to six hours.

Symptoms: Abrupt loss of consciousness, drowsiness, amnesia, seizures and tremors, hallucinations, dizziness, agitation, headache, nausea/vomiting, shallow breathing.

Important facts: Does not cause extreme muscle paralysis associated with Rohypnol. Carried in eye dropper bottles, baby food jars, or other household containers. May be used to soak cigarettes/joints. Illegal in every state.


(Kateset, Vetalar)

Street names: Special K, Vitamin K, Kit kat, K.

Appearance: Clear or yellow-tinted liquid that may be contained in small vials usually having a white and yellow label. Odorless, colorless and tasteless.

Ingested: Intramuscular or intravenous injection or oral ingestion. Effects appear in four to five minutes and last 45 minutes to an hour.

Symptoms: Hallucinations, visual disorders, numbing, loss of sense of time, loss of balance, lowered heart rate, possible loss of consciousness, overdose may be fatal.

Important facts: A popular animal sedative often stolen from veterinary clinics. Eating or drinking while using Ketamine may induce vomiting. Comparatively rare, but has gained popularity as a “club drug.”

Other date-rape drugs

Ecstasy, a popular “club drug;” thunder, similar to GHB; cigarettes or marijuana joints soaked in formaldehyde; over the counter prescription medications including anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, sedatives and hypnotics. Examples include Xanax, Valium and Benedryl.

Taking initiative

Over the past six months to a year, and especially over the summer, Lutheran Community Services has seen an increase in reported date-rape cases.

“I say reported because we know that the majority of any type of date-rape case goes unreported,” said Melissa Cilley, director of Victim Rights Response Team for Lutheran Community Services. “Victims in this type of case are very likely to refuse to report because they may be unaware of the effects of the drug, unsure whether or not the rape actually occurred since they were unconscious, or feeling guilty in the mistaken belief that they just ‘drank too much.’ “

Lutheran Community Services is working on an initiative to involve local establishments that serve alcohol in the effort to reduce the use of date-rape drugs.

By Oct. 1, the hope is that all local drinking establishments will post the following sign for patrons:

“I’ve got my eye on you. If you put any type of substance in another customer’s drink, you will be asked to leave. We want our customers to remember what a great time they had here.”

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