The so-called date rape drugs are dangerous and treacherous. For the most part they are tasteless and odorless and can easily be added to food or drink without the victim knowing. Andrew Luster used GHB. Others used Rohypnol or ecstasy. Still others have employed the rave drug ketamine. Each of these has the potential to render the victim very compliant while appearing more or less normal. That’s the danger. Their friends at the bar, where the victim has surreptitiously received one of these drugs, might not know that she is anymore intoxicated than a couple of drinks might do. They might think she’s simply having fun. They might think the guy she walks out the door with is harmless. That’s not always the case.
Such a situation might be part of the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Pitt Meadows, Vancouver, Canada. It turns out that the girl was at a party, a rave, where she might have been slipped one of these drugs. Regardless, she was apparently assaulted by several boys and suffered significant trauma. If that weren’t bad enough photographs of the assault were shared on Facebook where they went viral across the Internet. The rape victim was thus raped again.
Then yesterday, I came across a similar scenario that occurred at Central Washington University this past weekend. Apparently some substance was slipped into the drinks of as many as 12 students at a party and many became ill. Was this a stupid prank? Was this part of some planned sexual assault? It’s too early to know the motive or if the substance employed was one of these drugs, but it surely is suspicious. It will be interesting to follow this one.
I have an article on these drugs on my website but here are a few details about these dangerous chemicals:
Rohypnol (Street Names: Roofies, Roaches, Rope, Mexican Valium) is a benzodiazepine sedative in the same family as Valium and was developed to treat insomnia. It is no longer manufactured nor approved for use in the US, but is available in Mexico and many other countries. It is typically found as white tablets that can be crushed and dissolved in any liquid. Roofies cause sedation, confusion, euphoria, loss of identity, dizziness, blurred vision, slowed psychomotor performance, and amnesia. The victim has poor judgment, a feeling of sedated euphoria, and poor, if any, memory of events. Victims may suddenly “wake up” or “reenter reality” hours later with vague or no memory of what has happened.
Ecstasy (Street Names: E, X, XTC, MDMA, Love, Adam) was originally patented in 1914 as an appetite suppressant but was never marketed. It is made in underground labs and distributed in pill or capsule form. It has amphetamine (speed-like) as well as hallucinogenic effects. The user has enhanced sensations and feelings of empathy, a mood lift, increased energy, and occasionally profound spiritual experiences or an equally profound and irrational fear reaction. As with Rohypnol the victim is often compliant and has no memory for what transpires while under the influence of the drug.
GHB (Street Names: G, XTC, E, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid E, Easy Lay, Goop, Scoop, Georgia Homeboy) was developed over 30 years ago and was sold as a “natural” food supplement and muscle builder. It comes as a white powder that easily dissolves in water, alcohol, and other liquids. Currently, it is often found as “Liquid E,” a colorless, odorless liquid that is sold in small vials. Often when someone buys ecstasy, they are given GHB instead. And vice versa. The buyer often does not know exactly what he or she is getting.
The effects of GHB appear quickly, five to 20 minutes after ingestion, and typically last for two to three hours. It causes loss of inhibitions, euphoria, drowsiness, and, when combined with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and many other drugs, increases the effects of these drugs. Many kids use it to enhance the effect of alcohol for a “cheap drunk.” Users report that GHB makes them feel happy, sensual, and talkative. They might experience giddiness, drowsiness, amnesia, an increased sense of well-being, enhanced sensuality, and sometimes hallucinations. And as with the other drugs in this group, memory might be impaired.
Ketamine (Street Names: K, Special K, Kit-Kat, Purple, Bump) is a rapid acting intravenous or intramuscular anesthetic agent that causes sedation and amnesia. It was a common surgical anesthetic agent in the 1970’s but fell from favor in part due to its unpredictable hallucinogenic and psychiatric side effects. It is still occasionally used medically in burn victims since it tends to “dissociate” the patient from the pain, making the intense discomfort of burns more bearable. It is popular in veterinary medicine as an animal sedative, leading to another popular street name, Cat Valium. Ketamine is often stolen from animal hospitals and clinics.
Ketamine comes as a liquid, which when injected acts as a general anesthetic. It is often heated in a microwave or on a stove top to evaporate the liquid, leaving behind a white powder residue. This powder can then be added to any liquid, compacted into pills, or snorted, which is the preferred and most common method of usage. Its effects appear very quickly and last for a couple of hours. They include dissociation from reality, hallucinations, compliance, and loss of memory for events that occur under its influence.
A question I often get from mystery writers is what drug could be used to overpower someone or make them compliant so they can be kidnapped or taken away or what ever the story requires. The date rape drugs are always a good choice for the writer in the circumstances. While narcotics can render the victim unconscious, this requires that the perpetrator carry the victim and this is often not possible in the story. These drugs make the victim very compliant yet ambulatory and therefore work well for this purpose.
In the real world, the treachery lies with the same effects. The victim might appear normal, might laugh and joke with friends, might seem to be in full control of her faculties, when in fact, the opposite is the case.