It usually starts innocently. You decide to meet up with your friends after work or on the weekend for some laughs and libations. Maybe you’ve virtually met someone on an online dating service and it’s time for that first face-to-face. So, you head to your favorite hot spot where the bartenders are friendly and the patrons – even friendlier. While there, your focus is divided between the people you’re with and the surrounding atmosphere, as it should be. But there’s an unspoken trust which presents risks—not just to those who are drinking cocktails but even if you’re sipping on a Sprite. Read more about roofies and the risks of dating.
Socialization has taken an ugly turn. Unwilling drug use can happen for the purposes of sexual assault. It starts with roofies and the risks of dating but it doesn’t end there. I would know. It happened to me, more than once.
The Last Thing I Remember, Vaguely, Was Leaving the Bar
If I only knew then what I know now…. Three days of sunshine and surf was the plan during a weekend getaway from the heat of Arizona to the tempered breezes of Southern California. A road trip with two of my closest friends brought us to Huntington Beach. After too much sun exposure and the sunburn to prove it, we showered and walked to a nearby Sushi bar known for its hipster crowd. I was never much of a drinker (lightweight), so when a group of guys at the other end of the bar sent a round of sake to us, we smiled and accepted.
Within 15 minutes, we joined tables. Within 45 minutes after that, we headed out to a dance club. The next thing I knew, I woke up hazy, feeling extremely ill in one of the guy’s house. It was 10:24 am. I’m usually up at dawn. Scrambling around in a bedroom unfamiliar, I pulled on the rest of my clothes. I found a handwritten note on a table meant for me. The man ‘thanked me’ for a fun evening and said he had to leave for an appointment and that I could let myself out. I wandered to the bathroom, looked at the ornate mirror above the sink and was shocked at who stared back at me. My sunburn seemed to have disappeared, my eyes were bloodshot, mascara smeared across my face and hair knotted with dried sweat sticking strands together on the backside of my neck. Shaky and confused, I found my purse and used the house phone to call a taxi (pre-Uber days). But not before noticing the throbbing pain in my head and the soreness on the inside of my legs.
By the Grace of God, I Made It Back
My cell phone was dead. I couldn’t call my friends and didn’t know their phone numbers by heart. I didn’t remember the name of the hotel I was staying at, just the street it was on. Rummaging through my purse, I found the hotel room key. No name on it, just the room number.
My mind was jumbled. I hopped into the taxi and was dropped off on the street that I remember. As the day wore on I walked for hours, it seemed, searching for the hotel. Random thoughts came through. Memory clips from the night before: Driving in a car with that man, being pushed onto a bed, standing in a shower in the dark. Nothing made sense. I found the hotel, entered the room and tried to crash but everything hurt. My friends finally showed up and said they were about to call the police. It took me awhile to realize what happened. To this day, most of it I can’t recall.
Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault Has Been Around for Decades
There are countless stories of women (and men) who have experienced sexual assault and other crimes due to non-consenting drug intake. Victims of drug-facilitated crimes are often robbed of personal valuables such as jewelry, money and the right to say “No” to sex. Loss of dignity leads to shame. There were also cases where victims awoke to find that their kidney had been removed. Some, never woke up at all.
What Is Rophynol
Also referred to as roofie, rophynol is powerful. It comes in a pill, is often ground into a powder, but either way dissolves easily in liquid. The drug works quickly, often within 30 minutes and can last for hours.
Rophynol causes the following:
- Loss of balance
- Slurred speech
- Loss of motor skills
- Sudden tiredness
- Can’t recall blocks of time
- Loss of consciousness
- Diminished muscle control
- Vision problems
- Lowered blood pressure
- Stomach trouble or nausea
What Is GHB
Often touted as a growth hormone in the body-building community. GHB is gamma hydroxybutyric acid. It comes in various forms: a colorless and odorless liquid, white powder or pill. Once placed into a drink, it can add a salty taste which is why it’s often masked with fruit juice or other sweet beverages such as soft drinks, rums or whiskey.
The dangers of GHB are numerous. GHB is extremely potent and can begin to take effect within 15 minutes of being ingested. In addition, GHB is often concocted by home grown labs which can change to efficacy and increase the risk of overdose or death.
Signs of GHB in the body include:
- Many of the same effects as Rophynol and;
- Trouble breathing
- Dream-like sensation
KnoNap Provides Protection Against Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault
In a proactive move to put people in control of their social circumstances, George Washington University student Dayna Sherman designed a tool to help stop date rape, by removing a major risk factor. Her product, KnoNap, looks like a napkin you’d find on any bar countertop but with one big, beneficial difference.
Each corner of the KnoNap napkin can detect whether any of 26 different drugs are present in any given drink. To use it, people just place their drink on the napkin (common practice in a club or dining establishment). Then dip a finger into the drink and allow a drop or two onto a corner of the KnoNap. If the drink contains a drug, the napkin will change color.
How to Socialize and Keep Yourself Safe
There are other ways to help minimize your risk for unwanted Rophynol, GHB, Ketamine or other drugs that can be hidden in what we drink during a night out. And the culprit isn’t always a stranger. It could be the bartender or a so-called friend. When it comes to drinking (alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages) follow these tips to stay safe and maximize fun.
Tips to Stay Safe When Social:
- Watch your drink like a hawk.
- Witness the pouring of your drink, from start to when it’s placed in front of you.
- Whenever possible, open and pour the drink yourself.
- If you need to go to the bathroom, take your drink with you.
- Don’t share drinks with anyone.
- Don’t drink from punch bowls, ever.
- If someone offers you a drink, follow tips 1-5.
- If you’ve forgotten tips 1-6, throw your drink out and get a new one.
- Keep a panic-button app on your cellphone in case of emergencies.
If someone you know has been victimized or sexually assaulted due to drug use call your local police or visit a hospital or urgent care facility.
For Help with Drug or Alcohol Addiction, Speak to a Treatment Specialist Now
Authored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.
Content for Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and restaurants. Advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity. www.cohn.media
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.