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Fact Sheet

Date rape drugs


ReachOut fact sheets are written by young people for young people and edited by a mental health professional. Want to discuss the topic in more depth? Visit the ReachOut Forums.

Date rape drugs are types of drugs that are used to aid someone commit sexual assault or rape.  Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be spiked with date rape drugs, and it can happen at clubs, bars and at parties. The effects of date rape drugs depend on a number of factors, including your size, weight, and the amount or combination of drugs used. You can become unconscious or unable to defend yourself or remember what happened for the period that the drug was in your system.

Types of date rape drugs

Three common types of date rape drugs used in the U.S. are GHB, Rohypnol (also known as “roofies”) and Ketamine. These drugs are powerful and fast-acting. Once you swallow a date rape drug that’s been put in your drink, it can take effect either immediately or within a half hour. You may not know that your drink has been spiked with one of these drugs until you start to feel the side effects—like dizziness, nausea, confusion, sleepiness, or a drunk feeling—because these drugs are often clear in color, odorless, and tasteless.

Can alcohol be considered a date rape drug?

Yes. Alcohol is the most common drug used to commit any type of sexual violence like sexual assault and rape. Someone might add alcohol to a non-alcoholic drink or add more alcohol to an alcoholic drink to make it much stronger. Don’t assume that you can always taste the alcohol in your drinks. If your drink is sweet or has strong flavors, the taste of alcohol can be masked.

How to prevent being drugged

  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended. If someone offers you a drink, go to the bar with him or her;
  • Don’t share drinks or drink from a communal punch bowl that someone else has prepared;
  • Buy your own drinks and know what you are drinking;
  • Don’t drink something you did not open, or see opened or poured;
  • If you’re unsure about your drink or if you think it tastes strange, stop drinking it. In some cases, GHB can taste salty, although this taste is often masked by the taste of a drink.

What to do if you think you’ve been drugged

If you think someone has put a date rape drug in your drink, immediately tell someone you trust, like a friend, or call the police. If you’re in a public place, you can also tell the bartender, waitress, manager or security staff.

You might not realize that you’ve been drugged until several hours, or even days, after it happens. If this is the case, it is still important to tell your doctor that you suspect you’ve been drugged. He or she can check for the presence of certain drugs through urine or blood tests within 24 hours. Depending on the circumstances, a doctor or the police may ask you to take a sexual assault kit (or series of tests to determine if you may have been sexually assaulted while you were drugged).  You may not have realized that you were assaulted.  To find out more about sexual violence and assault, please review the Sexual violence fact sheet.

Date rape drugs and the law

Although certain drugs like Ketamine are legal in the U.S. for medical purposes, they’re tightly restricted and should not be used to drug someone against his or her knowledge. Roofies are illegal in the U.S. And in every case, sexual assault and rape are illegal.

Information in this fact sheet was provided by

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Date Rape Drugs

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, GHB, Ketamine, Rohypnol.

 

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