Certain drugs can be used to render a person unconscious, unable to resist physical contact, and even to make them violently ill or die. These drugs are often used in an effort to commit sexual assault, but they can also be used to poison a victim. Persons who are subjected to harmful drugs against their will can pursue battery charges against their attackers.
Roofies and Other Date-Rape Drugs
When most people think of drugs being used to immobilize victims, they think of Rohypnol. Commonly known as a roofie, rohypnol is a benzodiazepine, a class of anti-anxiety drugs that cause users to feel drowsy and confused. These drugs can also weaken a victim’s muscles, making it difficult for him to fight against an attacker. Rohypnol is illegal in the United States, but it's often smuggled in illegally. The drug usually takes effect within 30 minutes when a victim consumes rohypnol.
Ketamine is another drug often used to render a person unable to resist attack. It's an anesthetic that makes the victim feel relaxed and compliant and potentially renders her unconscious. Ketamine is used as a sedative in the United States, more often in veterinary practice than for human patients. It's effects occur almost immediately after ingestion.
Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB, causes a victim to become disoriented and groggy. At low doses, GHB causes a person to feel nauseous. It can trigger seizures, memory loss, vision problems and loss of consciousness at higher doses. GHB is used in the United States to treat narcolepsy. Its effects can be felt 15 minutes after ingestion.
Collectively, drugs used to immobilize victims for the purpose of sexual assault are commonly known as date-rape drugs. Alcohol is the most commonly used date-rape drug. It can be used in conjunction with another drug or on its own, immobilizing the victim by intoxicating him.
How to Tell If Your Food Is Drugged
Beverages are often laced in an effort to drug victims. Both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks can be drugged. Food can also be laced with drugs to immobilize a victim.
It can be very difficult for a victim to detect drugs in food because many drugs have no discernible taste or odor. Those that can be tasted – like GHB due to its salty taste – can be masked with other, stronger flavors. The reality is that most drugs cannot be detected in food. One notable exception is marijuana, which has a strong odor and a taste that is almost impossible to mask.
How Do I Know If I Was Drugged Last Night?
In many cases, victims don't realize that they've been drugged and assaulted until the day following the incident. Next-day signs of drugging can include:
- Feeling hungover despite not consuming alcohol or consuming very little
- Waking up in an unfamiliar location
- Inability to recall events the night before
If an individual thinks she was drugged and potentially sexually assaulted, she should seek medical attention as soon as possible to:
- Determine which substances are present in her system
- Collect relevant semen samples
- Establish a timeline of the alleged events
- Complete a rape kit
A victim should seek medical attention to confirm the drugging and receive any necessary medical care even when he doesn't think he was sexually assaulted. A female victim should avoid urinating if possible, or brushing her teeth or taking any other actions that could potentially compromise the drug test she'll complete with the doctor. If the victim still has samples of the food or drink that was allegedly drugged, she should keep them for testing to determine the truth.
Legal Recourse for Drugging Victims
Drugging a person is an act of battery, even when no sexual or physical assault occurs. Armed with evidence such as results from the food or drink’s lab tests, eyewitness testimonies of the alleged incident, the victim's own recollections of the evening and following day, and the results from the medical examination, he should file a police report to have a battery and/or sexual assault charge filed against the alleged perpetrator.