The act of being drugged without your knowledge or consent is commonly called “being roofied.” Although the term originated as a nickname for the common date rape drug Rohypnol, several drugs are used for this purpose. Here’s what you need to know about these drugs and how you can minimize your chances of being victimized by their use.
Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine that’s approximately 10 times as potent as Xanax. Although not approved for use in the United States, this drug is nonetheless widely available on the black market. Symptoms begin within 30 minutes and last for several hours.
Also referred to as cherry meth, GHB is a prescription medication for the condition known as narcolepsy. Effects are felt within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion and last for up to six hours.
Ketamine is a fast-acting veterinary anesthetic that’s also known as cat valium. Its effects last from 30 minutes to an hour.
How Common Is Being Roofied?
Research gleaned from three large universities suggests that as many as one in 13 college students has been slipped drugs without their knowledge or consent. Seventy-nine percent of those who reported being drugged were women, and women were more likely to experience sexual assault after being drugged. Although it does seem to be more prevalent among the college crowd than among the population as a whole, middle and high school students, as well as older adults, have all reported being roofied.
Although commonly associated with party environments in which many people are consuming alcohol and drugs recreationally in the same general area, being roofied can also happen elsewhere, such as when you’re on a traditional date.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Being Roofied?
The signs and symptoms of being roofied closely mimic those of simply having consumed too much alcohol, particularly if consumed in combination with cannabis products. This means it can be difficult to discern the difference, in some cases, between someone who’s been slipped drugs and someone who’s overindulged. Feelings of euphoria are also common in the initial stages, particularly among those who are also consuming alcohol.
The first sign of being roofied is the onset of extreme brain fog. Victims also experience disorientation, difficulty focusing and concentrating, loss of muscle control, the sensation of paralysis and a feeling of extreme drunkenness. Some people may feel nauseated, and nearly everyone who’s given these drugs experiences lapses in memory.
Because of the powerful effects of these drugs, many people don’t realize they’ve been roofied until the next day. The aftereffects are similar to having a really bad hangover and include headache, muscle pain, sensitivity to light, general drowsiness and confusion, nausea and the inability to recall certain events of the night before. It’s not uncommon for those who’ve been slipped drugs to never really know what actually happened to them.
How Can You Help If You Suspect Someone Has Been Roofied?
If you suspect someone’s been roofied, the first thing you should do is have them drink as much water as possible. Make sure they’re safe from any possible predators who may have slipped them the drug and get medical treatment as soon as possible. Although it might be tempting to just let the person sleep it off, these drugs carry serious risks. They may interact badly with other drugs already in the person’s system, such as heroin and alcohol, or the dosage may have been high enough to cause an overdose.
Seeking immediate medical attention also helps if the victim decides to pursue legal recourse. If the person has been sexually assaulted, they’ll need to go to a hospital so the facility’s sexual assault team can collect forensic evidence.
What Should You Do If You Suspect You’ve Been Roofied?
If you suspect someone has slipped you an illicit drug, it’s imperative that you call 911 immediately. Don’t drive, and don’t leave the area you’re at unless you’re in danger. Try to stay around as many people as possible until help arrives, and drink as much water as you can to help flush the drug from your system. If possible, tell a trusted friend about the situation. Because you may lose consciousness very quickly in this situation, acting fast is essential at the onset of any signs you’ve been roofied.
It’s also important to seek medical care afterward if you wake up the next day suspecting you’ve been roofied. If you’re not sure whether you were sexually assaulted, a medical examination can help determine if that occurred. Taking pregnancy prevention medication is usually advised in this scenario, and hospital staff can use a rape kit that can help prove the guilt of the person who assaulted you. Don’t shower or bathe until prior to going to the hospital as it could destroy evidence.
What Are the Chances of Permanent Damage?
Unfortunately, these drugs can result in permanent cognitive impairment in some cases, particularly if seizures occurred. However, it’s more common for victims to experience psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. This can lead to struggling with work and school obligations, an inability to form and maintain positive relationships and using drugs and/or alcohol to self-medicate.
Tips to Prevent Being Roofied From Happening
Strategies for minimizing the chances of being roofied include always going out with a trusted friend or group of friends to events involving alcohol consumption, not accepting drinks from others, and keeping your hand over your drink if you need to look away for a moment. Create a buddy system to prevent any one person from getting separated from the group and, if necessary, take your drink to the bathroom with you.
Although there are tests and gadgets designed to let you test your drink for the presence of date rape drugs, these are still in the experimental stage and should never take the place of common sense caution.
Please contact FHE Health for more information if you find yourself struggling with mental health issues after an experience with being roofied.