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What are the signs and symptoms of Date Rape Drug ingestion?

Rapists and other sexual predators may use a chemical substance to incapacitate their victims to facilitate sexual assault. The M.O. (Modus Operandi) is for a sexual predator to select a victim, typically at a club or party. The predator will approach their victim and offer them a drink into which they have introduced a date rape drug. The victim will consume the drink, and become incapacitated within 30 minutes. The predator will remove their victim from the premises, and to a fringe area, meaning an area with no witnesses. The sexual assault will take place, and the victim will be abandoned. The victim may also be robbed, photographed or videoed, or displayed in an undignified position. When the drug wears off, the victim will have no recollection of what happened; only that they have had sex, and something is terribly wrong. The drugs that are used in this way are commonly referred to as Date-rape drugs. There are three main types of drugs used for this purpose: 

  1. Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam)
  2. GHB (Gamma-Hydroxy-Butyramine)
  3. Burandanga, aka Devil’s breath, aka the Zombie drug

Rohypnol is also a drug of abuse. It can be taken orally, crushed and snorted, or rushed and mixed with a liquid medium and injected. Like all of the tranquilizers in the benzodiazepine class, Rohypnol will produce relaxation, sedation, and a pleasant euphoric feeling as one is freed of all anxiety and worry. This comes with a considerable price, as Rohypnol and all of the benzodiazepines are highly addictive, and produce a potentially life-threatening withdrawal syndrome. Rohypnol, like all benzodiazepines potentiate the effects of alcohol, and vice versa. This is noteworthy in that a sexual predator will most likely add Rohypnol to an alcoholic beverage

GHB is also abused for similar effects, and is used by bodybuilders as an anabolic, or muscle builder. GHB will put the user into Stage three, or Deep sleep, for an extended period of time, during which HgH (Human Growth Hormone) is released by the brain to facilitate muscle growth. 

Although the effects of Burandanga are reported as unpleasant, people will abuse any type of substance out of curiosity, so it is likely been used as a drug of abuse. 

Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam)

aka Roofies, aka roach, aka the date rape drug, is the most infamous of the date-rape drugs. Flunitrazepam is a benzodiazepine class tranquilizer developed in the early 1970s by Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceutical company. It was first marketed in 1975, under the trade name Rohypnol in Switzerland Rohypnol is not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for use in the US. It is smuggled into the U.S. from Asia, Africa, Europe, Mexico, and south American countries where it is used medically. 

What is Rohypnol?

The original Rohypnol is a white half or quarter scored tablet, with "Roche" and the numeral one or two printed on them, indicating the dosage in milligrams. Since 1997, Hoffman-la Roche has changed the formulation of Rohypnol in response to its misuse for chemical sexual assault. Rohypnol is now a football shaped olive-green tablet, with a blue speckled core. When introduced into liquid, it will not dissolve completely, but break up into chunks, and turn the drink blue. There are many generic manufactures of Flunitrazepam who may or may not include the marker dye and other abuse resistance features. 

Effects of Rohypnol:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination and muscle tone (jelly fishing)
  • Impaired judgment
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Memory loss 
  • Stomach upset and Headache
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Dry mouth

Overdose of Rohypnol can result in 

  • Coma
  • Respiratory depression
  • Death. 

Gamma-hydroxy-butyramine (GHB) 

GHB is an odorless, colorless, salty tasting liquid, which is used in Europe as a general anesthetic. It has effects similar to Rohypnol. It will be very difficult to detect its presence in a beverage, as it is clear and has no odor. The salty taste may or may not be detectable in a beverage. 

Burandanga, aka Devil’s breath, aka the Zombie drug

Burandanga comes from the borrachero tree, a yellow and white flowering tree found in Columbia. The flowers and pollen contains scopolamine, which is a chemical substance which blocks a brain chemical called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is responsible for memory formation and muscle movement. When it is blocked, new memory formation is not possible, and there will be a loss of muscle control. The apparent effects of Burandanga are an altered state in which a person will remain conscious, but become very susceptible to suggestion. It is primarily seen in Columbia, and is used to facilitate kidnapping and robbery, though it would also be used for date rape. The veracity of the reports on Burandanga is unclear. It is uncertain of the effects are being exaggerated by the media for dramatic purposes.  It is available in a powder form which is blown in the victim’s face, or can be introduced into a beverage. There has been an urban legend circulating that predators are giving potential victims business cards treated with Burandanga, but there is no evidence for this. 

Risks associated with chemical sexual assault:

  • Anxiety/Paranoia (Who did it? Who can I trust?)
  • Agoraphobia
  • Depression and suicides 
  • PTSD (Post –traumatic Stress Disorder) 
  • Long term confusion about normal healthy sexuality- extremes of asexuality or hypersexuality 
  • Pregnancy
  • STI’s (Sexually Transmitted Infections)  

Protecting yourself from chemical sexual assault

  • Do not Accept an opened drink from a stranger. 
  • Do not trust anyone to watch your drink for you 
  • Do not drink from a punch bowl
  • Do not leave a friend who is displaying the effects of these drugs
  • Drink only from tamper-proof bottles, or cans that you open yourself.