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Date Rape Drugs

Topic Overview

Drugs that have been used in date rapes include flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). These drugs inhibit a person's ability to resist sexual assault.

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant. GHB is a clear, odorless liquid that looks like water and so can be added to a beverage without the person knowing it. It may also be used in the form of a white powder. GHB is also known as liquid ecstasy, G, or soap.

At low doses, the drug relaxes the person. The person feels intoxicated, has more energy, feels happy, and is talkative. Other effects include:

  • Feeling affectionate and playful.
  • Mild loss of inhibition.
  • Increased sensuality.
  • Enhanced sexual feelings.

GHB can cause unwanted side effects, such as headache, drowsiness, dizziness, and vomiting. It can lead to difficulty breathing, being conscious but unable to move, and loss of consciousness—especially when it is combined with alcohol or other drugs. GHB has been involved in overdoses, date rapes, and death.

This drug does not stay in a person's system very long and is not easily detected with drug screening tests (toxicology tests).

Flunitrazepam

Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), is a central nervous system depressant. It is similar to diazepam (such as Valium) but about 10 times more potent. It is commonly called roofies. It is a tasteless, odorless tablet that can be crushed and dissolved in liquid. It has been used in date rapes, because it can be slipped into a person's drink without it being detected. One small tablet can produce effects for 8 to 12 hours.

Flunitrazepam is sometimes used to enhance the high of heroin or to ease the negative effects of a crack or cocaine binge. When flunitrazepam is mixed with alcohol, its effects cause a person to not resist sexual assault. It can produce a form of amnesia so that the person may not remember what happened while under the influence of the drug. Flunitrazepam may lead to death when mixed with alcohol or other depressant drugs.

Flunitrazepam is addictive.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Last Revised July 20, 2012

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