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Rohypnol and GHB (Date Rape Drugs)

Concern has increased nationwide over reports of the abuse of illegal sedative drugs to incapacitate potential assault victims. Recently this concern has extended to university campuses and has been linked to reports of acquaintance rape. This fact sheet was developed as a precautionary measure to inform members of the Wake Forest University community about the most common of these drugs, Rohypnol and GHB. We hope that with information, everyone will be aware of the best strategies to use to avoid such an occurrence and what to do if you suspect that you or someone you know may have ingested such a drug without your/their knowledge.

ROHYPNOL:

  • Is also known as Roofies, Rophies, R-2s, LaRocha, Mexican Valium, Rope, Rib, Roach, Roofenol, Ruffies, or Roches.
  • Is a benzodiazepine (sedative) drug used medicinally as a sleeping pill, muscle relaxant or surgical anesthetic. It is reported to be ten times more potent than Valium, a commonly prescribed sedative medication.
  • Is not licensed for sale in the United States and is therefore illegal. It is smuggled into the country from Mexico or Europe, where it is available by prescription. In the United States, it may be bought on the street inexpensively ($2-3 a dose). The Drug Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996 was passed to increase the penalties for possession and distribution of Rohypnol, with sentences of up to 20 years for possession of a controlled substance with the intent to give it to someone to facilitate a violent crime, including rape.
  • Is a white, dime sized pill that is odorless, tasteless and colorless. It is easily dissolved in alcohol and other beverages. The manufacturers (Hoffman-La Roche) have very recently added a blue dye to reduce the risk of abuse of the drug.
  • Appears to be used most frequently in the United States in conjunction with alcohol, greatly potentiating the effects of the drug.
  • Can cause a person to become disoriented and confused with 15-30 minutes. On a single dose, a victim may have a “blackout” lasting 8-24 hours, making it extremely difficult to remember what has happened during this time period.
  • Is also reported to cause impaired judgment, dizziness, visual disturbances, confusion, nausea, hot and cold flashes, the inability to speak clearly, apparent partial limb paralysis, and gastrointestinal disturbances.
  • Victims may ultimately “pass out” but may wake up intermittently. However, they generally feel unable to recall clearly what occurred while they were under the influence of the drug.
  • Remains in the victim√Ęs urine in a measurable amount for only about 3 days.
  • Is unlikely to cause death when taken by itself, even in large doses, according to a study conducted by the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic. However, when combined with alcohol or other drugs, these researchers reported that the risk of death is increased due to central nervous system depression.

GHB (Gammahydroxybutyrate):

  • Is also known as grievous bodily harm, scoop, saltwater, liquid ecstasy, Liquid X, cherry meth, soap, Liquid E, GBH, Gamma-O, Gib, Georgia Home Boy, Natural Sleep-500, and Oxy-sleep.
  • Was originally marketed as a surgical anesthetic but was never approved for sale in the United States because of reports of unpredictable quality and side effects. It continues to be legally prescribed in Europe.
  • Is a liquid sold on the street in small plastic bottles. It can produce unconsciousness with only a teaspoonful mixed into a drink.
  • Within 5-20 minutes, can cause amnesia, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, unconsciousness, and seizure-like activity. When ingested with even small amounts of alcohol, it can cause depressed respiration. CNN has reported at least 6 deaths in the United States following the ingestion of GHB.
  • Has recently become popular on the street as a recreational drug because of its intoxicating effects.

How to Protect Yourself and Others from Rohypnol/GHB Involuntary Ingestion:

  • Only drink from tamper-proof bottles or cans. Open them yourself.
  • Avoid drinking from wide-mouthed glasses if possible, which make it easy for someone to slip a substance into your drink without your knowledge.
  • If you order a mixed drink at a bar or a party, watch to see that your drink is properly mixed or prepared.
  • Do not leave your drink while you go to the restroom, dance, or move to talk with a friend. Take it with you.
  • Avoid asking someone to watch your drink. Even if you trust them, they may forget or become distracted.
  • Be aware of your friends’ behaviors. Do not leave friends alone at a bar or a party unless you are certain that they are safe and sober. Practice the buddy system.

If You Suspect that You or a Friend has been Drugged:

  • It is generally considered to be difficult to distinguish clearly between the symptoms of alcohol intoxication and the ingestion of Rohypnol, GHB, or a similar drug. One strong indicator may be when symptoms of intoxication appear with the ingestion of only a small amount of alcohol. This is a good reason why everyone should know their limits when it comes to social use of alcohol.
  • If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, either during that evening or the next day or days, seek medical services immediately. Avoid urinating if possible, as a urine sample is required for positive identification of the drug in the body. If urination is required, any clean receptacle may be used and the sample transported to a medical facility.
  • At Wake Forest University, it is recommended that students report to Student Health Services. Testing can be completed there with permission and an examination can be performed if a student suspects that they may have been raped or sexually assaulted. Student Health Services assures confidentiality of results of such testing.