It Happened To Me: Date Rape Drugs

Years ago, on Halloween night while I was an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, my drink was dosed. Like most kids, I was bar hopping in downtown Santa Cruz and I have no idea what bar’s drink was dosed, much less who did it. What I do know is that I’d had two, maybe three drinks that night and I felt something else entirely was going on.

In full disclosure, and as many of you already know, I am an alcoholic (now sober for 5+ years). At that point in my life, it took a lot more than three drinks for me to get drunk. But I found myself, almost in a hypnotic state, vaguely numb and definitely confused. It was a different “high” altogether. My boyfriend and I got separated from each other. I was alone, in the middle of all the crowds on Pacific Avenue (kind-of a mini-Castro event) and completely out of it.

I remember walking up to an older, hippie-ish gentleman and telling him flatly, “Hi. I’m fucked up and would you please walk me safely to the [name of local bar]?” Weird, I know, but he did just that. Walked next to me without being too close and when we got to the bar I was a “regular” at, he left me with a thumbs up and a “good luck!” I told the bartender (a girlfriend of mine) that I needed to use the phone. I called a taxi, she made sure I got in safe, and I got home.

The next morning I woke up fully clothed, my door locked, safe and sound.

I cannot even begin to explain how fortunate I feel that whomever dosed my drink either chickened out or fouled up their plan…or intended the drug to be for someone else, who knows.

It was a swift shot of reality I got that morning (though I wouldn’t stop drinking until years later).

In the last week I came across advertisements and endorsements for two separate products which claim to test for “date rape drugs”.

The first product is a simple strip (like a pH strip) in a lipstick case that can be dipped into a drink and changes color if the drink contains one of two drugs, the other is a drink coaster which does the same.

What troubles me about these products (besides the fact that we should need them at all) is that they only test for two of the most common “date rape drugs”: ketamine and GHP. Neither product tests for the well-known Rohypnol, referred to often as “roofies”.

And how’s this for a reality-check: Alcohol, just plain ol’ alcohol, is the #1 most common drug used to sedate a person before rape.

I can’t discount that these drug-testing products might be useful in some way, but they should not ever take the place of the best precaution measures, which are:

(1) WATCH your drink and keep it in your eyeline

(2) If you have to go smoke or dance while you’re out, get a new cocktail when you return.

(3) Try not to drink too much

and, closest to my heart,

(4) Be with friends who love you and look after you (and do the same for them)

This ain’t a foolproof system. And it’s doubtful that we’ll ever be able to come up with a drug-test that turns blue for all drugs that can be used in conjunction with sexual assault and rape. I can’t publish this post without pointing out that the person you’re on a date with, who is supposed to be your trusted person, might be the aggressor.

Unfortunately, it’s still up to us to protect ourselves and each other as a community: of sisterhood, of queers, or of a few buddies who like a good weekend crazy-party-time.

Especially on the nutty night that is Halloween in San Francisco, BE SMART. BE SAFE. The previous night looks a heckuva lot more fun when you can actually remember it the next day, and you wake up exactly where you want to be.

xx – Holden

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“Coasters That Test for Date-Rape Drugs” [Good Vibrations Magazine]

“Date rape drug” [Wikipedia]

“Date-Rape-Drug-Detecting Lip Gloss” [New York Magazine, The Cut]

UPDATE: Jesus! What’s with today and the date rape?!

“Advice Columnist Doesn’t Know What Roofies Are For” [Jezebel]

“Hazy Memories, Moral Clarity: What a Very Bad Night Taught Me About Date Rape Drugs, Friendship and Responsibility” [Newsweek]

Hazy Memories, Moral Clarity: What a Very Bad Night Taught Me About Date Rape Drugs, Friendship, and Responsibility

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One Response to “It Happened To Me: Date Rape Drugs”

  1. a girl that likes bread Says:

    i can’t begin to tell you that being roofied & rape scares the beegeezus out of me. heck, date rape is pretty scary phenomenon too! a year ago i would have professed that for a boy to walk a girl to her car after a date was dated and passé — on the same level as opening doors, and pulling out chairs. but nowadays, i’ve come to my senses…walk me to my friggin’ car damnit!

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