Date rape drugs are a very present danger.
Campus fun can get out of hand— especially during Orientation week where some frosh activities may include alcohol.
You might have one too many drinks. Let’s be honest—it happens. You are a froshie, running from bar to bar across Montreal with your new fellow classmates, filling and emptying your plastic cup. Beer is cheap.
There are drinking games like Kings Cup or Slap Cup, where odds are that you will walk away covered in booze. And even if you don’t drink alcohol and are merely having a pop with friends at a local bar, date rape drugs are more common than you might think.
The well-known ones are Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine. Maybe you are more familiar with the terms, “Special K,” “Party Drug,” or “Roofies.” These drugs have become known for their ability to incapacitate someone, allowing the attacker to commit crimes, such as sexual assault, robbery, and/or physical assault. Quite often, these drugs are both odorless and colorless.
Ketamine can be a clear liquid or a white powder. It’s actually still used to sedate children and animals for minor procedures. In large doses, according to the Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (OWH), it causes an “intensely dreamy feeling or deeply detached, hallucinogenic state.” This state is known as the “K-hole” because it might be difficult for the user to talk or move.
Rohypnol, on the other hand, is usually found in tablet form. The white pill is small and round, and when slipped into your drink, it dissolves and becomes invisible, according to OWH.
Thirdly, according to the same source, GHB looks like water when in liquid form.
I think you get the point. It is not always helpful to know what the pills and powders look like, especially when they tend to be so discreet. They do not swirl around your drink with a banner that reads: “I am spiking your drink.” Most of the time, they are unnoticeable before the first symptoms, which start to kick in after 15-30 minutes.
Symptoms include, but are not limited to, the inability to think and judge clearly, difficulty moving, visual problems, nausea, confusion, and memory loss. Blackouts. All symptoms that could otherwise point to simply having had a few drinks too many.
“I’ve never felt so sick in my life,” said a Concordia student, who wishes to remain anonymous. She had rohypnol slipped in her cocktail at a bar. “I couldn’t stand and could barely move, and was throwing up constantly for over 24 hours, which is what’s scary if you go home with someone. You literally cannot leave your bed.”
In 2008, a study was conducted in the University of Windsor, which investigated the effect of voluntary and involuntary drug use in sexual assaults. A total of 280 undergraduates, 143 men and 137 women, were chosen at random from the participant pool in the Department of Psychology. April L. Girard and Charlene Y. Senn, the pioneers of this study, discovered that a total of 7 per cent of women reported “having men attempting to engage in or engaging in sexual intercourse against their will by giving them drugs or alcohol,” and a total of 3 per cent of men admit to “using these tactics to induce women to have sex against their will.”
Most people are aware that Ketamine, Rohypnol and GHB are considered date rape drugs, but so is alcohol.
“Any substance that is administered to lower sexual inhibition and enhance the possibility of unwanted sexual intercourse is potentially a date rape drug,” according to an article from the US National Library of Medicine, entitled “Drugs-facilitate date rape.”
In 2001, The Canadian Federation of Students reported that 90 per cent of the sexual assaults reportedly experienced by Canadian female students involved alcohol.
“I never leave [my drink] unattended for the reason that I do not want anyone to put anything in it,” said Evgenia Choros, a Concordia student.
“The crazy thing is that I was watching my drink all night, the guys my friends and I were talking to must have slipped the rohypnol in in a split second when I looked away,” said the Concordia student who chose to remain anonymous. “And they seemed like totally normal, nice guys too.”
So stick by your drink. Don’t make it easy for someone to slip something in it. Give it to a friend to watch over before racing off to the bathroom or outside for a cigarette break.