Date rape drugs are used to make a person more vulnerable to sexual assault and easier to attack. Sometimes, one or more drugs are used to distract a person so they become unaware of what’s going on and unable to protect themselves. These drugs are often secretly slipped into someone’s drink.

The most well-known date rape drugs include the following:

  • Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) is prescribed to people with sleep and anxiety disorders in other countries, but it’s not approved for medical use in the United States. It’s commonly called roofies or R-2.
  • GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyric acid, is sometimes prescribed to treat narcolepsy. It’s also called cherry meth, liquid E, or scoop.
  • Ketamine is used during surgical procedures. It may be called vitamin K, cat valium, Kit Kat, or special K.

Less commonly used date rape drugs include:

  • ecstasy, also called Molly, X, and E
  • LSD, commonly called acid
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • alprazolam (Xanax)

When a date rape drug begins to cause symptoms and how long they last depends on how much you are given and whether it’s mixed with alcohol or other drugs. Alcohol can make the effects even stronger. Symptoms of date rape drugs generally include dizziness, confusion, and loss of memory.

Rohypnol

The effects are typically felt within 30 minutes and include:

  • slurred speech
  • feeling very drunk, even if you’ve only had one drink
  • dizziness
  • unconsciousness
  • loss of muscle control
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • memory loss
  • blackouts
  • lowered blood pressure

GHB

The effects of GHB start in about 15 minutes. A tiny amount of GHB can have a major effect. GHB can cause these symptoms:

  • drowsiness and dizziness
  • vision problems
  • feelings of relaxation
  • increased sensuality
  • seizures
  • memory loss
  • sweating
  • slow heart rate
  • nausea and vomiting
  • blackouts
  • loss of consciousness

Ketamine

Ketamine begins to take effect very quickly, sometimes just a minute after ingestion. It can lead to:

  • distorted perceptions of sight and sound
  • out-of-body or dream-like experiences
  • problems breathing
  • loss of coordination
  • convulsions
  • numbness
  • violent behavior
  • high blood pressure

At high doses, these drugs may even cause death.

Date rape drugs are powerful. Rohypnol is a central nervous system depressant or tranquilizer. GHB was formerly used as an anesthetic, and ketamine is a painkiller and anesthetic. In general, they cause drowsiness, slow your heart rate, and have a sedative effect on the body.

The resulting loss of inhibition, impaired judgement, and memory loss are reasons why these drugs are used in rape. They are sometimes called “paralyzing” since the person often loses muscle control and is unable to move or call for help.

Most date rape drugs are colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It may be impossible to tell if your drink has one in it. Ketamine comes in liquid, powder, or capsule form. GHB is made as both a white powder and a colorless, odorless liquid. GHB sometimes tastes a bit salty.

Rohypnol comes as a white, dime-sized pill that dissolves quickly in liquids. The manufacturer has changed the formulation so that when dissolved in liquid, it turns the liquid blue. This might help someone spot whether their drink has been tampered with. Generic versions of the pill don’t have this feature.

Protecting yourself doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the party, you just have to exercise a few precautions when it comes to what you drink:

  • don’t take drinks from other people
  • open containers yourself
  • watch your drink being poured or mixed at a bar and carry it yourself
  • if you need to go to the bathroom, take your drink with you; if you can’t, leave it with a trusted friend
  • don’t drink anything that tastes or smells odd
  • if you’ve left your drink unattended, pour it out
  • if you feel very drunk after you only had a small amount of alcohol, or none at all, seek help right away

Keep in mind that alcohol in large doses can also make someone unconscious and unable to defend themselves. Recognizing the symptoms of date rape drugs and keeping an eye out for intoxicated friends can go a long way.

Date rape can happen to anyone, so understanding the signs and symptoms of drugs used to assist with date rape and ways to protect yourself is essential.

If you think you have been a victim of date rape or sexual assault, get medical attention right away. Don’t bathe or change your clothing before you go, so the hospital can collect evidence. Tell the police everything you can remember.

You can also call RAINN’s hotline at 800-656-4673 to speak to a trained counselor. There is more information about the service on RAINN’s website. You can also talk to a counselor online through instant message.