REVIEW OF DATE-RAPE DRUGS

There are three major groups of drugs used in drug rape and other drink-spiking crimes: GHB, Ketamine and Benzodiazepines (which include Rohypnol and valium).

All the drugs act as an anaesthetic that reduce a person’s ability to resist rape or robbery and often causes the victim to cooperate with the criminal. After a few hours, the victim will fall asleep and wake up with little or no memory of what happened when she or he was under the influence of the drug. In addition, these drugs stay in the system for a relatively short time (as little as 12 hours for GHB) so that even if a victim wants to go to the police and press charges, the evidence will have disappeared.

This makes it very difficult to prosecute drug-rape crimes. There is no violence, the victim cannot remember what happened and the evidence of the crime has left the victim’s system before she even realises that a crime has been committed. Thus, the only effective way to deal with drug rape and other drink-spiking crimes is to avoid getting drugged in the first place.

Here are specifics about each of the drugs. While this is a discussion of the use of these drugs in rape and other crimes, it is important to keep in mind that

These drugs, when taken inadvertently, can have serious consequences including coma and death.

Gamma Hydroxybutyrate ( GHB)

GHB is a central nervous system depressant abused for its ability to produce euphoric and hallucinatory states and, as some believe, acts like an anabolic steroid to stimulate muscle growth. GHB was originally available over-the-counter drug in the US but was made illegal there in 1990 due to overdoses and other health problems. It was made a Class C illegal drug in the UK in July 2002.

GHB takes effect within 10-20 minutes and lasts 1-3 hours.

Other street names for GHB are Grievous Bodily Harm, Georgia Home Boy, Scoop, Great Hormones at Bedtime, Soap, Easy Water, G-Riffick, Cherry Meth, Organic Quaalude, Jib, Liquid Ecstacy, Liquid X, the Easy Lay, Goop and Gamma-oh.

GHB was popular in body-building gyms for many years because its alleged steroid-like effects. It is still especially popular in clubs because it is a muscle relaxant that gives one the sense of well-being and mild euphoria similar to the effect of ecstasy.

GHB is not as widely known as ecstasy, but is more dangerous. The Drug Abuse Warning Network in the US reported—in 2000—more emergency room visits related to GHB than to ecstasy (4969 versus 4511, respectively).

GHB is easy to manufacture and a number of recipes for it can be found on the internet. As different amateur chemists will produce varying concentrations of the drug, and as people vary significantly in both body mass and drug tolerance, it is virtually impossible to determine a safe dosage of GHB. This makes the drug especially dangerous.

A review of the literature suggests the following dosages for a 250ml drink:
(1 gram = 1/5 of a teaspoon = 4000 ppm (parts per million))

Light: 0.75-1.75g
Standard: 1.75-2.75g
Strong: 2.75-4g
Heavy: 5g or more
Overdose: 6.25g or more
Coma: 8.75g or more
Death: 10g or more

Many people have bad reactions to GHB. These effects can include disinhibition, sedation, hallucinations, desire to sleep, rambling speech, giddiness, silliness, difficulty thinking, slurred speech, loss of bladder control and passing out. The effects of an overdose can include deep sedation from which you cannot be awakened for about three hours, seizures, sudden and dangerous drop in blood pressure, heart rate or breathing, coma and death. The effects of GHB are exacerbated when taken with alcohol or other drugs. This makes it especially dangerous when used to spike an alcoholic drink.

KETAMINE

Ketamine, or ketamine hydrochloride, is an anaesthetic intended primarily for veterinary purposes. Its primary use is in surgery for small animals and has also been used in human medicine for paediatric burn cases, in dentistry and in experimental psychotherapy. Ketamine is a liquid and its most potent medical use is by injecting it intramuscularly or intravenously.

Ketamine is becoming a popular recreational drug. It produces “disassociative anasthesia.” The effect is often likened to the mind and body being separated from each other, or a near-death experience—if taken in a sufficiently high dose. This effect is usually called a “K-hole.” Effects can range from rapture to paranoia to boredom. It can render the user comatose.

Unlike GHB, dosages for Ketamine are well established:

Side Effect

Zero

Low

Light

Common

Strong

K-Hole

Dose

0g

40mg

50-100mg

75-300mg

200-450mg

500+mg

ppm

0

160

200-400

300-1200

800-1800

2000

*All concentrations are calculated for a standard 250mL beverage.

Ketamine takes effect in 5-20 minutes and the effects last 4-8 hours. A human would reach a state of deep cataleptoid sedation (like a coma) with a dosage of 15mg/kg. Thus, for example, a 9-stone (126 lb, 57kg) woman would be completely sedated with a dosage of about 850g.

Ketamine was popularised by the singer Madonna in 1998. Her “Ray of Light” album reputedly contains tracks that describe the Ketamine experience. In an interview in the March 1998 issue of Q Magazine, she commented that she couldn’t believe that UK clubbers still preferred E to K.

Some of the street names for Ketamine are K, Ket, Special K, Vitamin K, Vit K, Kit Kat, Keller, Kelly’s day, Green, Blind squid, Cat valium, Purple, Special la coke, Super acid and Super C. Slang for the K-hole include K-land, baby food and God.

The effects and dosages above assume that Ketamine is not mixed with alcohol or other drugs. In club or rave settings, overuse of ketamine has been known to cause collapses and lead to catatonic states. It is not a social drug like ecstasy and is, in fact, a depressant. Among other undesirable effects are nausea, vomiting and giddiness. In large doses and in combination with other central nervous system depressants, it can depress respiration and lead to death. Victims of drink spiking are especially at risk as they may be “on” other drugs while they ingest ketamine unknowingly.

BENZODIAZEPINES

Benzodiazepines (benzos, for short) are a class of drug commonly known as tranquillisers and sleeping pills. The most common benzos (with some brand names in brackets) are Alprazolam (Xanax), Broazepam (Lexotan), Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Clobazam (Frisium), Clonazepam (Rivotril), Diazepam (Valium), Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), Lorazepam (Ativan), Nitrazepam (Mogadon), Oxazepam (Serepax), Temazepam (Nocturne) and Triazolam (Halcion). Among these, the two best known are Valium and Rohypnol. Rohypnol is seven to ten times stronger than Valium and so we shall limit our comments on benzos to Rohypnol—although all of the benzos can be used to commit drug-rape crimes and most of the comments about Rohypnol apply to all of them.

Rohypnol is a trademarked drug produced by Hoffman LaRoche. The drug, which has been around for many years, is intended for use as surgical anaesthetic, muscle relaxant or sleeping pill. Effects can be felt within 15-20 minutes and can last up to 12 hours.

Effects of Rohypnol consumption are sedation, difficulty with concentration, dizziness and difficulty with walking. When taken with alcohol there is increased nervous system depression with symptoms such as confusion, loss of memory and thinking difficulties.

A normal dosage of Rohypnol is 1-2 mg for people under 50 kg (110 lbs) and 2-4 mg for people over 50 kg. The drug is sold under prescription in some countries (but not in the US) in 1 mg or 2 mg doses. Because Rohypnol has long been used in drug-rape and other drink-spiking crimes, Hoffman LaRoche added a blue dye and made the drug slower to dissolve in an attempt to make the drug harder to disguise. However, the blue dye cannot be seen in coke, red wine and coloured beer bottles, for example. Moreover, Rohypnol and other forms of Flunitrazepam are readily available on the street so the blue dye does little to limit its use as a drink-spiking drug.

Street names for Rohypnol include Roofies, Roaches, R-2s, LaRocha, Mexican valium, Rope, Rib, Roach and Roofenol.