Every year, Americans become victims of a drugging, and some of them lose their lives. The exact number of these crimes is hard to obtain, mainly due to factors like the underreporting on the part of the victims and the highly anecdotal nature of druggings linked to robbery. (These crimes may make headlines in different parts of the country but with little statistical context that might quantify their prevalence nationwide.)
Date rape druggings occur at an exponentially higher rate, even when accounting for the problem of underreporting. At least 11 million women in the U.S. have been raped while drunk, drugged, or high, according to statistics from the “National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010-2012.”
What should you do if you suspect you’ve been the victim of a drugging-related rape or robbery? For help with this question, we consulted an expert. Retired police commander Patrick Fitzgibbons spent more than two decades in law enforcement and has experience responding to drugging-related crimes. Today Fitzgibbons advocates for first responder mental health on his podcast CJEvolution and as a national outreach liaison for FHE Health.
How Do I Know If I Was Drugged? Symptoms of Being Drugged
If you think you may have been drugged, what symptoms should you look for? “If you are feeling unusual or not your normal self—(only you know)—then there is a possibility that you have been drugged,” Fitzgibbons said. “Drugs can have different effects on people, but generally people experience symptoms like slurred speech, fatigue, weakness, or visual impairment.”
If “the onset of these symptoms is severe and sudden,” within “15-30 minutes of consumption,” that may be another indicator that you have been drugged, according to a Stanford University guide. It also states that if you begin to feel far more intoxicated than you should be, given how much you’ve drunk, that may be a warning sign. With some drugs, like ketamine, there may be hallucinations and heart palpitations.
Common Date Rape and Robbery-Related Drugs
What are some of the more common drugs used to commit crimes like robbery and date rape?
Fitzgibbons said GHB and Rohypnol are common date rape drugs: “GHB is a depressant and affects the CNS (Central Nervous System). Rohypnol, also a CNS depressant, is a fast-acting benzodiazepine.”
“Roofie symptoms” are a common search term. Being drugged with a CNS depressant like Rohypnol—“roofied” as the slang goes—can manifest in the following symptoms:
- A sudden feeling of fogginess
- Excessive drunkenness (a major red flag if you haven’t had much to drink)
- Gaps in memory
- Difficulties concentrating
- Reduced alertness and energy
- Feelings of paralysis
- Loss of muscle control
Next-Day Side Effects After Being Roofied
The side effects of being roofied are also worth noting. These can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Headaches and/or muscle pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Tingling sensation
- Confusion and memory issues
“I Think I Was Drugged—Now What?”
If you think you were drugged, what should you do?
First, “If you think you have been drugged, inform someone you know and trust immediately so they can protect you. If you are by yourself, contact 911 and seek medical help immediately,” Fitzgibbons urged.
Second, you should file a police report, and here there are a couple of options, Fitzgibbons said:
There are different ways to file a police report and a lot of agencies now have an online option. You could also contact your local police department and ask for an officer to respond. If there is a case of a suspected sexual assault, then police would respond.
Third, after the filing of a police report, the police may investigate depending on the severity of the crime.
The penalties can range from state to state. Depending on the severity of the crime, police will adjust their investigation practices accordingly, meaning that if someone has been drugged and subsequently sexually assaulted, this would warrant a more in-depth investigation.
Common Mental Health Symptoms to Watch for
Anyone who is drugged and raped or drugged and robbed, is the victim of a violent crime—and has experienced a very traumatic event. It is not uncommon for mental health symptoms to develop weeks or even months later. Some common symptoms, according to Fitzgibbons, may include:
- temporary loss of memory
- post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms of which might be flashbacks, hypervigilance, extreme anxiety, irritability, and mood issues
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. With treatment, many people have been able to find healing and move forward from even the most traumatic of experiences. The same can be true for anyone who has been the victim of a violent crime.