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Date Rape Drugs

Date rape drugs, such as GHB and rohypnol are substances specifically designed to impair and immobilize victims. Drugs used by sexual predators to make a victim less resistant are called date rape drugs. Keep reading to learn to protect yourself from date rape drugs.


There are three main date rape drugs: GHB, rohypnol and ketamine. Each of these drugs has such a slight taste that it is likely to go unnoticed, especially in flavored drinks such as soda and alcohol. All are clear and most commonly found in liquid form. There is no smell to warn victims, either.


GHB can induce amnesia, which is why it is one of the most popular date rape drugs. Victims do not have a clear memory of what happened. Additionally, it can be produced using common ingredients at home, which makes it cheap and easy to come by for sexual predators. Visual problems, dizziness, drowsiness and a dream-like state are effects of GHB. After the initial effects wear off (in about 15 minutes), nausea and vomiting can follow. Repeated exposure, as well as higher doses, can affect the body with the following problems: 

  • Seizures 
  • Slowing heart rate 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Coma 
  • Death

GHB is legal only in very specific cases of narcolepsy.


Rohypnol can also cause amnesia, as well as black out and confusion. Slurred speech, as well as other symptoms associated with drunkenness (such as decreased motor skills and visual distortion), are effects of rohypnol. Many victims mistakenly think that they are merely “terribly drunk,” when in fact they are victims of a date rape drug. A lower blood pressure can result, as well as extreme sleepiness. Stomach problems are very unpleasant side effects of rohypnol. Roypnol, though used in Europe and Mexico as an anesthetic, it is not legal for any use in the United States.


Ketamine, or “Special K” is a hallucinogen that can make the entire experience of date rape even more sinister and scary. Sight and sound are often distorted, and there is a loss of sense of time and identity, associated with feelings of having an out of body experience. Ketamine temporarily immobilizes victims so that they do not have proper muscle control. Most victims actually remain conscious throughout, but feel out of control because they cannot move. Ketamine can also cause other problems: nausea, trouble breathing, convulsions, coma and death. Ketamine is legal as an anesthetic, mainly for animals (and in some rare cases for humans). Most illicit ketamine is actually stolen from veterinary clinics.

Protecting yourself from date rape drugs

It is important to take the following precautions to avoid inadvertently taking date rape drugs: 

  • Do not accept drinks from other people. Ever. And open all containers yourself. Always. Most people are sexually assaulted by people they know and trust to some degree. 
  • Keep your drink with you at all times. If it is out of your sight, even briefly, get a new one. 
  • Avoid getting your drinks from a communal source, such as a punch bowl, as these can easily be spiked with date rape drugs. 
  • Try to bring a friend to help you avoid lapses in judgment.

If you think that you might be a victim of date rape, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Go to the hospital immediately, as date rape drugs make it through the system fairly quickly: 

  • Do not go to the bathroom prior to seeking help. You will need your urine to be tested. 
  • Even though you may feel unclean, do not bathe or douche prior to getting help. Do not change your clothes. All of these things provide evidence. 
  • Get counseling. You can ask the hospital to refer you, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or 800-787-3224 (TDD).

Main source material: “Date Rape Drugs,” The National Women’s Health Information Center. Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [Online.]

Related Article: GHB Usage, Analogs, Effects >>

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