It’s the Holidays – Don’t Become a Victim of Date Rape

Oh, the Holidays! With sales galore, mistletoe, trees, decorations and parties to attend, this is the perfect season for crime. We tend to let down our guard at this time of the year and trust that all will be jolly and merry. And, with a little awareness, it very well can be.

The Statistics

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "Date Rape", is one of the fastest growing drug-facilitated, sexual assault crimes in America today. In most cases, this is how it happens: Illicit drugs are unobtrusively slipped into beverages of unsuspecting victims at dance parties, bars or nightclubs. These substances are colorless, tasteless and odorless so the victim has absolutely no way of knowing that the drink he or she is about to consume will cause severe impairment and leave him or her defenseless. The victim is then left at the mercy of the perpetrator, led away to somewhere private and ultimately assaulted.

So what is Drink Spiking?

Drink spiking is the act of placing a foreign substance into a drink without someone’s knowledge. It can be done with many different agents with the evidence pointing to alcohol as the most popular. Many prescription drugs can be used as well as illicit drugs.

There can be many reasons for spiking a drink including as a prank, to aid in sexual assault, theft/ robbery or even kidnapping. This crime affects all sexes and ages, with 11% of victims being male. It is one of the most under reported crimes and therefore there is a lack of crucial data to be able to assess the true number of spiking incidents and drug facilitated crimes. It can happen in any place where drinking occurs, in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, raves, clubs, bars, pubs, restaurants, even private house parties.

There are some basic rules that can be followed to help protect you from this cowardly act:

  • 1. Never leave your drink unattended
  • 2. Watch you drink being poured
  • 3. Don’t accept drinks from people you do not know or trust
  • 4. Although a bottle may be harder to slip something into than a glass but is still not 100% safe
  • 5. Watch your friends and their behaviour and try not to go out alone
  • 6. If your drink doesn’t taste right, discard it
  • 7. Do not drink from open beverage sources like punch bowls, pitchers or tubs.
  • 8. Keep your eyes and ears open; if there is talk of date rape drugs or if friends seem "too intoxicated" for what they have taken, leave the party or club immediately and don't go back.
  • 9. Utilize a Drink Safe Technologies test which can detect levels of GHB or Ketamine that would render someone into a semi conscious state where they can be easily led away

    What are the drugs of choice?


    GHB stands for gamma hydroxybutyrate, a central nervous system sedative often referred to by other names such as "Grievous Bodily Harm", "Liquid Ecstasy" and "Fantasy".

    GHB was once sold in health food stores as a performance enhancer for body builders because it was believed to stimulate the production of human growth hormone. In 1990, the FDA banned the use of GHB because of reports of severe, uncontrollable side effects.

    GHB can produce drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, unconsciousness, seizures, severe respiratory depression, and coma. Overdose of GHB can occur quickly and can be fatal. In the USA since 1990, there have been 5,700 documented cases of GHB abuse and more than 30 reported sexual assaults and 65 deaths attributed to this drug.

    Most of the GHB used today is a "homemade" mix of various chemical ingredients, including solvents. Homemade GHB is dangerous in part because there are significant differences in potency, purity, and concentration. The same amount taken from two separate batches can have very different effects.

    GHB is available both in liquid and powder forms


    Ketamine is an injectable anesthetic that has been approved for both human and animal use in medical settings since 1970. About 90 percent of the ketamine legally sold today is intended for veterinary use. It's slang or street names are Special K, K, Vitamin K or Cat Valiums.

    Ketamine gained popularity for abuse in the 1980s, when it was realized that large doses cause reactions similar to those associated with use of phencyclidine (PCP), such as dreamlike states and hallucinations. Ketamine is produced in liquid form or as a white powder that is often snorted or smoked with marijuana or tobacco products.

    At higher doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Low-dose intoxication from ketamine results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory. Because it is often colorless, tasteless, and odorless, it can be added to beverages and ingested unknowingly.

    Emergency room mentions of ketamine rose from 19 in 1994 to 396 in 1999. Recent use has been reported more frequently among white youth in many cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Newark, New York City, Phoenix, San Diego, Texas, and Washington, DC.


    Rohypnol is a brand name for Flunitrazepam, a powerful sedative that is often referred to by other names such as "roofies" and "roach." In fact, the nickname "roofies" has come to be synonymous with all 'Date Rape' drugs. Like it's sister compound Valium, it is a member of the benzodiazepam class of drugs, but it is estimated to be better than 10 times more powerful.

    Rohypnol is not legally available for prescription in the United States but is legal in 60 countries for the treatment of insomnia. Rohypnol may cause users to feel intoxicated; they may have slurred speech, impaired judgment, and difficulty walking. The effects are often felt within 10 minutes and can last up to eight hours. Rohypnol can cause deep sedation, respiratory distress, and blackouts that can last up to 24 hours. There is a potential for overdose or death to occur, especially when mixed with alcohol or other drugs. Rohypnol is available in small white tablets that can be taken orally, ground up in a drink, or snorted.

    In 1997, Hoffman Laroche, the only legal manufacturer of Rohypnol, changed the formulation of it's product to combat the growing trend in 'Date Rape' abuse. New Rohypnol pills are much less soluble in beverages, and now impart a blue/green color to any drink they are added to.

    What to do if you’ve been spiked?

    If you believe you have been spiked, find someone you trust and get to a safe place. It is very important to get a urine or blood sample as soon as possible and have it tested. Keeping the suspect beverage is also a good idea if possible. Report the incident to the police who will need these items for evidence should you want to take action. You can also contact the local sexual assault centre for advice.

    Use a little more awareness while out at parties and stay Safe! Happy Holidays!

    *information provided by Drink Safe Technologies

    Angie M. Tarighi is the CEO/Founder & Personal Safety Expert of Women's Self-Defense Institute providing self defense training, education awareness & personal protection products empowering women to fight back against crime.

    Angie created Women's Self-Defense Institute to share information, resources, products, training and advice about safety and survival to women nationally & internationally coping with a dangerous world. Angie brings humor and real world examples to her training empowering women to tap into their own strengths and become their own best self-defense advocates.

    We offer various self-defense programs for the individual, employer, group, or organization to increase their awareness and reduce their risk of becoming a crime victim from simple Lunch & Learn sessions to extended self defense programs.

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