Rape Drugs

What are rape drugs?

The term ‚rape drug‘ is used for various substances. What all of them have in common is their effect: numbing of senses, impaired memory or complete loss of memory (amnesia).

How do date rape drugs work?

Narcotic substances are used as date rape drugs for their numbing effect. GHB/GBL is one of them – while small quantities of it first bring about a feeling of well-being and relaxation, a higher dose may lead to loss of consciousness and coma. Its effect varies, depending on the individual, and when combined with other drugs like e.g. alcohol, is unpredictable, even lethal. The substance takes effect about 10-20 minutes after intake and may be effective for up to 4 hours. Certain sensations and physical reactions might be an indicator of drink spiking, so you should pay special attention to the following symptoms:

  • dizziness – similar to circulatory disorders
  • sweating/increased perspiration
  • visual problems (esp. blurred vision)
  • numbness/feeling dopey and confused or disoriented
  • impaired perception
  • lack of will power
  • restricted mobility or even complete motionlessness

Administering these substances may also lead to:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • unconsciousness
  • anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia
  • impaired concentration
  • blackouts and mental blanks

Some persons affected still suffer from corresponding symptoms and poor concentration on the following days. Many of them feel ashamed as they believe they are the ones responsible for going blank by drinking alcohol and/or using other drugs. Either they have only fragmentary or hazy memories of sexual acts or no memories at all. But they do sense there was sexual intercourse without precisely knowing how it all came about and what exactly happened.

How long can date rape drugs be traced?

Only blood and urine samples will allow ultimate confirmation of date rape drug use. These tests must be conducted as soon as possible as many substances are traceable only within a given time frame. GHB/GBL e.g. can be traced by blood samples within 6 hours maximum, and by urine samples within 12 hours maximum. When this time period has elapsed tracing evidence might be possible by hair analysis although this is expensice. At any rate you need to find out and check who is going to bear the expenses for the forensic examinations in this specific case. In order to document possible injuries and marks, to rule out danger of infection, and to assess the risk of being pregnant, it is advisable to have a physical and gynaecological examination. Consult either your local GP or and emergency room or ‚Institute of Forensic Medicine for Victims of Violence‘ (‚Rechtsmedizinische Untersuchungsstelle für Opfer von Gewalt‘) at UKE Eppendorf (University Hospital Eppendorf). You don’t have to report to the police to have access to these services.

How to protect yourself:

Unfortunately, there is no blanket protection. That’s why it is important to keep in mind that these drugs are widely used, e.g. not only at parties, in club, or major events, but also at private parties and in any private context.

The following steps may help prevent drink spiking:

  • Never leave your drink unattended – If you think your drink has been spiked, don’t drink it – tell a trusted friend or relative immediately.
  • You might stick to bottled drinks only (avoid cocktails e.g.).
  • Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know.
  • Don’t give out your address to someone you have just met.
  • Make plans for your journey home.
  • Before going out, let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be home.
  • If you start to feel strange or notice symptoms such as dizziness or nausea, tell your friends at once and ask them to leave the club, party, pub, disco with you. If your friends are not around turn to the staff or security. Do not accept the offer to accompany you or take you home by anyone unknown to you.
  • If you notice someone else showing these symptoms, take care of this person. Call an emergency ambulance (112) because of acute danger to life.
  • The best protection against date rape drugs is attentiveness and heightened awareness of yourself as well as of friends. Take good care of each other!



Sexual Violence

Human dignity shall be inviolable.
(Article 1 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany)