A drug circulating throughout the college party scene has been raising concerns in conjunction with reports of rape and sexual assault. However, this phenomenon is not new and has been a major problem for over a decade. While the fear of being slipped something is a regular concern in popular culture, many students wonder whether or not the drugs are a legitimate problem at UC Irvine parties.
While one UCI second-year female who asked to remain anonymous claimed to bring a can of pepper spray whenever she goes to fraternity parties, there are other items now on the market to avoid partying problems. One brand of lip-gloss called “2 Love My Lips” comes with a drug detector in order to warn the user if their beverage contains signs of a date rape drug.
Even with Hollywood shedding a humourous light on the subject in films like “The Hangover,” the ugly truth is that ingesting it either knowingly or unknowingly can lead to deadly consequences.
One account occurred last year at a party at which a female student was given a drink by an acquaintance. Shortly after drinking it, she lost complete control of her body and was nearly raped before being found by her friends. The man who spiked her drink confessed to it weeks later, but did not face charges.
However, many students deny ever hearing about the use of “roofies,” despite the stories circulating throughout the campus and the supposedly tarnished reputations of certain fraternities for being affiliated with “date-raping.”
One active fraternity member who requested anonymity for both himself and his fraternity said, “I have never heard of anything, and I doubt that this drug is present at all here. Most of the stories are just speculation from rumors.”
The actual “date-rape” drugs come in several different varieties. Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), or its street-name “Roofie,” is known as the popular “date rape drug.” Medically speaking, “roofies” are Benzodiazepines, drugs used to treat panic attacks, anxiety and insomnia. This drug also has hypnotic, sedative, dissociative and amnesiac effects, and may go unnoticed when added to one’s drink or food.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. It can produce ‘anterograde amnesia,’ which means that individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the effects of the drug.”
Rohypnol has a synergistic effect with alcohol where sedation occurs within 20-30 minutes of administration and could last for hours. Since the drug causes memory “blackouts,” victims who have been raped after being drugged with Rohypnol have reportedly woken up in strange places.
Frederick J. Ehlert, a Pharmacology professor from the UCI School of Medicine said, “It’s a really bad idea to mix that drug with alcohol. It only takes a few milligrams and it could kill someone.”
Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), another similar drug, has effects that are very similar to those of alcohol.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “Victims may not be aware that they ingested a drug at all. GHB and its analogues are invisible when dissolved in water, and are odorless. Though somewhat salty in taste, it is indiscernible when dissolved in beverages such as soft drinks, liquor or beer.”
Luckily, flunitrazepam and related compounds can now be detected in urine up to five days or in hair up to a month after the ingestion of a single dose.
It is imperative that those who suspect they have been drugged seek testing to determine what may have happened. Prevention is simple: do not accept drinks from people no matter what the situation may be.
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