WATCH YOUR DRINK

 Uncategorized
Dec 082005
 
Authors: Kristen Majors

Every semester, a few students on campus report having date rape drugs slipped into their drink. However, the vast majority who are drugged and raped never report the crime.

Even if a person reports ingesting a date rape drug, he or she will usually not test positive because the drugs leave the body so quickly. Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is undetectable less than four hours after consumption.

Carole Diamond , a nurse practitioner at Hartshorn Health Services, said a woman who probably ingested GHB at a local bar came into the health center earlier this semester. Nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, headache and sometimes seizure can accompany the intake of GHB.

"They just have a feeling of not knowing what happened," Diamond said. "It's a horrible thing when it happens to you, and if you don't report it, it really has some long-term psychological effects."

If it is suspected that a person has been drugged, he or she should go to the emergency room immediately. That person should also report the incident to Fort Collins Police Services.

Another resource available to victims on campus is the Office of Women's Programs and Studies. The office offers a victim assistance team to help victims deal with any legal, medical and emotional processes that follow the rape.

"The biggest indicator (of a date rape drug) is if you've had two beers and normally you drink five, and you're completely blacked out," said Chris Linder, director of Women's Programs and Studies. "Generally the person just knows something isn't quite right."

Diamond said opening one's own alcohol container is the best protection against date rape drugs. Also, do not leave a drink and continue drinking it upon returning. Friends should also keep watch of one another to make sure they are not in danger.

"You just have to be cautious," Diamond said. "If a friend is acting strangely, don't leave that friend. Don't allow friends to leave with people they don't know. If you have a friend that falls and passes out, don't just put them to bed; they need to be taken to the emergency room because that's a serious situation."

Alicia Chance , freshman open option major, said she is aware of the possibility of having date rape drugs slipped into drinks and takes steps to prevent it from happening to her.

Chance said she knew an exchange student in high school who was drugged at a party.

"It made it more realistic, that it could happen. I usually just don't leave my drink alone, and I like to get my own drink," she said about the incident.

Linder said it is difficult to catch the person who drugged the victim because he or she has no recollection of what has happened and the drug has usually exited the body.

Unless there is a witness, the perpetrator usually goes unpunished.

The victim can report who he or she thinks the person responsible is, however, so if victims repeatedly report the same name to the police as a suspect, it might prompt further investigation.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Web site, the three different date rape drugs currently used are GHB, Rohypnol and Ketamine.

GHB can come in pill, powder or liquid form. The liquid has no odor or color, while the powder and pill are white.

Rohypnol is a pill that turns blue when dissolved in a liquid and so becomes detectable. This is, however, a new development and the old, colorless form of the pill is still available.

Ketamine comes as a white powder.

Hartshorn Health Services and the emergency room test for date rape drugs, but it is pricey and must be done quickly after ingestion. A rape test should also be performed. The victim should not urinate, bathe or change clothes before seeking help, as doing so may destroy evidence of the rape.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Women's Health Web site at http://www.4woman.gov/faq/rohypnol.htm#4.

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