Drug Awareness: Yep, People Still Get Roofied
Disclaimer: The opinions in the piece represent the author only and not the overall sentiment of Sensible Reason.
Drug use is a constantly evolving discourse. Whether we’re talking about the color of meth or the legality of weed, the discussions seem endless. When drug-related deaths or injuries occur, the debates seem to multiply. Cue the wave of news coverage on MDMA and other similar party drugs in the EDM world. Incidences start conversations and conversations ignite opinions on how these issues should be managed. People have a variety of ideas for how drug problems should be addressed: some believe that creating stricter rules is key to eliminating the problem, however I am a firm believer in education over cut-and-dry regulation. I believe that educating people to make smarter decisions is ultimately far better than creating more rules – after all, illegal drugs are already…illegal. Furthermore, there are a so many indulgences that are legal that can be incredibly harmful. Which brings me to the root of my argument for today: roofies.
Thoughts of roofies and date rape had not crossed my mind in years. Perhaps they lingered as distant whispers that unconsciously reminded me not to take drinks from strangers, but I wasn’t actively thinking about them as a threat when I was out with my friends in a party, bar or concert setting.
But I should have been. I should have actively been thinking about it when two of my friends wandered off at a show a few nights ago. When they came back I realized that one of them was unbelievably intoxicated. They had been gone for less than half an hour and were barely tipsy when they’d left. My friend seemed oblivious to her surroundings and unable to walk properly. I was confused. To make a long story short, the next morning we put together the details and realized that something had been slipped into her drink. After more research we concluded that she had been exhibiting many symptoms of being roofied.
She was lucky in that nothing happened to her after consuming the drug. She vaguely remembers two men talking to her and trying to get her and our friend to stay at the bar with them. Somehow they made it back to us without any further incident. Even though she was not harmed, I was still angry that anyone would do that to her, and that far worse things happen after people have been drugged, all. the. time. This event inspired me to speak up and remind myself and others that roofies are a.) still around and b.) the warning about watching one’s cup should be heeded.
The word ‘roofie’ actually comes from a mispronunciation of the brand name, rohypnol. The drug name is flunitrazepam which was originally on the market in 1963 with the intention of being a short term treatment for extreme anxiety or chronic insomnia. It is 10 times more potent than Valium and has the ability to cause amnesia…so it is perfect for knocking someone out. Rohynol is now no longer legal in the US. By the 1990s, using it as a date-rape drug was commonplace and the manufacturer had already tried numerous changes to make it harder to abuse. (For more in depth information check out this from the Department of Justice.)
So people started using other drugs. GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) or Ketamine are most common. And while they both have very different intended purposes, they are legal. These drugs dissolve quickly in alcohol and can take effect in the body very soon after consumption. The drugs inhibit the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol making the person feel drunker faster. Side effects include relaxation, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, lost sense of time and identity, convulsions, vomiting and memory loss. My friend exhibited many of these.
Of course there are a number of things we could have done to avoid this all together. To begin with, she should have never accepted the drinks from strangers. Another thing to keep in mind is that if the beverage tastes salty or seems off in color that indicates it has been laced with GHB. Actual rohypnol turns liquids bright blue. And not to be Captain Obvious, but asking oneself if another drink is necessary is important too; perhaps my friend’s already slightly intoxicated manner indicated that she would not be paying as close attention and therefore be an easier target.
Although my friend was not date raped, if we had realized what was wrong sooner it may have been wise to talk to authorities as well as seek medical care. If date rape does occur, WomensHealth.Gov recommends that one “[should not] urinate, douche, bathe, brush your teeth, wash your hands, change clothes, or eat or drink before you go. These things may give evidence of the rape. The hospital will use a “rape kit” to collect evidence.” 42% percent of women who are victims of date rape do not tell anyone about it. Yet 84% of them knew their attacker. Speak up and call people out. We cannot hope to decrease this crime rate if no one reports the events. And do not feel ashamed about getting help and support. There are many resources like National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE that are set up to aid victims during recovery.
What I hope we can achieve from this current iteration of drug conversations is a willingness to be open to the facts about these substances. I cannot realistically check every single next drink my friend consumes, but I can hope that by educating myself and others that we will all be safer in the future. I cannot check every young adult’s pockets for MDMA when they enter a club, but I can hope that with more discussion about these potentially harmful substances, we can create an environment where kicking back and enjoying the night doesn’t mean someone will be hurt or killed.