Click here to quickly exit this site

Drugging, “date rape” drugs, and drug-facilitated sexual assaults

If you think you may have been drugged, it is crucial that you get tested as soon as possible to verify the substance in your system – see below for more information.

Certain drugs may be added to beverages, usually alcohol, in order to cause another person to become quickly incapacitated. These drugs are sometimes called “date rape” drugs, although this can be a misnomer as the drugs may be used by a perpetrator who is not dating the victim. A drugging can happen whether the perpetrator is a date, a stranger, or someone you know.

Drug-facilitated sexual assault may occur if alcohol or drugs, or some combination, are used to incapacitate an individual, meaning that individual is unable to consent to sexual activity. Such drugs may inhibit a victim’s ability to resist, and might also prevent a victim from remembering the assault.

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in drug-facilitated sexual assaults. However, other drugs might also be used, whether over-the-counter medications (like sleep aids, antihistamines or allergy pills), prescription medications (anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills), or street drugs (rohypnol, ecstasy, ketamine, GHB). These street drugs are particularly dangerous as they can be added to drinks without changing the color or taste or the drink.

Symptoms of drugging may vary, and will depend on the type of drug, whether it was combined with alcohol, and the quantity of the drug that was consumed. For many drugs, symptoms will start quickly, often within 15-30 minutes. Some common symptoms include:

  • Rapidly reduced inhibitions
  • Low blood pressure (particularly from rohypnol)
  • Dizziness, disorientation or blurred vision (common from other drugs, but particularly rohypnol)
  • Nausea
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feeling drunk when you haven’t consumed any alcohol or very limited amounts
  • Loss of balance, finding it hard to move
  • Sudden body temperature change that could be signaled by sweating or chattering teeth
  • Waking up with no memory, or missing large portions of memories
  • Waking up feeling particularly confused or disoriented
  • Hallucinations

If you believe you were drugged, it is helpful to get to a hospital quickly and take a blood or urine test, to find out what might be in your system. This can help preserve evidence for a future disciplinary investigation, or to support a potential criminal prosecution against the assailant. Many of these drugs leave the body quickly, and so it is best to get to a hospital within 12-24 hours if possible.

To avoid being drugged

Some victims believe it is their fault, that they are to blame for becoming the victim of a drugging or drug-facilitated sexual assault. The victim is not to blame. Drugging another individual is a crime, and sexual assault is a crime. The only person responsible is the perpetrator. Nonetheless, the following safety information is offered in order to reduce the likelihood that you, or any of your friends, will be a victim of a drug-facilitated sexual assault:

  • Never leave your drink unattended and keep an eye on your friends’ drinks
  • Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know
  • When possible, open and pour your own drink
  • Consider sticking to bottled drinks and avoid punch bowls or jugs or pitchers of cocktails
  • Don’t give out your address to someone you’ve just met
  • If you think your drink has been tampered with, don’t drink it – tell a trusted friend immediately (if possible, try to keep the drink to preserve as possible evidence)
  • When possible, use the buddy system when out with friends; agree to keep an eye on your friends and to go home together
  • If a friend starts to exhibit symptoms of possible drugging, seek medical help immediately

The university will investigate all allegations of drugging and drug-facilitated sexual assault. To make a report, contact the Office of the Title IX Coordinator or the Department of Public Safety.