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Campuses warning students about rape drugs

'Date-rape drugs' can be hidden in alcohol September 17, 1997
Web posted at: 6:15 p.m. EDT (2215 GMT)

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It is almost a given that "college" and "drinking" go together on many campuses. But students are increasingly being warned about two "rape drugs" that render a victim incapable of fending off an attacker.

"It's something that scares me deeply," says a female student in a Los Angeles bar, "because ... I don't like feeling vulnerable."

Rohypnol and GHB (short for gamma hydroxybutyrate) are both colorless, odorless and tasteless when dissolved in a drink.

Undesirable side effects

Rohypnol -- a powerful sedative often prescribed as a sleeping pill in Europe, Asia and Latin America --- is reported to be seven to 10 times stronger than Valium. It is illegal in the United States. When used with alcohol, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it causes "disinhibition and amnesia."

icon Leilani
Alleged victim
"I have no memory ..."
(86 K / 8 sec. audio)

"I had bumps on my head ..."
(166 K / 15 sec. audio)

GHB was originally developed as an anesthetic but was withdrawn due to undesirable side effects. It is an odorless, colorless liquid and its effects include euphoria, reduced social inhibitions and an increased libido.

Law enforcement and education officials warn that the drugs are increasingly being used by rapists to disable unsuspecting victims. The rapist slips the drug into the victim's drink and then waits for its disabling effect.

Leilani -- a student who asked that her last name and college not be identified -- says she took a drink from a stranger at a fraternity party last year. When she came to, "I was on a couch in the fraternity and ... I had my clothes on. But my pants were unzipped and open, and I had been urinated on. I also had bumps on my head, and bruises."

"I have no memory of what happened," Leilani said. "I was not given the proper tests to find out for sure, so I really don't know what happened."

Tests can confirm use of drug

Awareness campaign poster

UCLA is just one of many college campuses throughout the United States warning students about the rape drugs. Every student buying a textbook at the college bookstore will get a free bookmark with tips about how to avoid becoming a victim.

Women are not the only ones who have been drugged. And according to the law, any time anyone is sexually assaulted after being rendered incapable of consent, it is rape.

"Any victim who has a suspicion that she had been drugged needs to have a urine test," says Gail Abarbanel, the director of a rape treatment center. "And the other thing that's extremely important is that this be done as soon as possible."

Correspondent Jennifer Auther contributed to this report.


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