Preventive tools to identify date rape drugs limited

Daniel Lederman/Staff Writer

Roofies at your party? It’s more likely than you think.

25 percent of college women report that they survived rape or an attempted rape at some point in their lifetime, according to Many of those rapes are date rapes, carried out by the mixing of the drug Flunitrazepam or more commonly known as Rohypnol, or “roofies.”

Graphic by Guethshina Altena/Assistant News Director

Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of those who want to prevent date rapes, the United States Food and Drug Administration has kept an airtight wall around the majority of date rape prevention tools. These tools range from color-changing nail polish to stirring sticks.

Regardless of whether these tools can prevent date rapes with their color-changing techniques, the FDA will not approve any of them until a non-toxic solution is found. The reactant nail polish needs to change color when stirred in a potentially drugged drink, which it then releases chemicals into the drink when the polish comes into contact with date rape drugs – namely GHB and ketamine. This makes it impossible to ingest the drink without the danger of being affected by the reactant chemical. Worse yet, the tools available aren’t able to detect the most common date rape drug, Rohypnol, which can be masked by the alcohol in the drink.

That isn’t to say that there is no option left.


Currently, there is an FDA approved device on the market that uses the same GHB and ketamine detection system. The company DrinkSafe has created a coaster that can be used to expose potential roofies. They can be bought online from their website or through online retailers like Amazon, and even at some universities. However, it’s unclear if FIU offers these coasters or other date rape prevention tools as the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services department did not respond in time for publication.

Elizabeth Biswell, a junior majoring in journalism, believes women need as many tools as possible to protect themselves from date rape. However, she doesn’t know how easily available date rape detection tools are and hasn’t looked too hard for them, either.

Aura Martinez, a sophomore majoring in broadcast media, hasn’t used any prevention tools before but thinks it would be a good resource to provide students.

“I believe [date rape drug prevention tools are effective] because you’ll know that you may be at risk, like when people are drinking at parties,” said Martinez.

Karla Florez, a junior majoring in journalism, has also never used a date rape drug prevention tool like Martinez but is skeptical over how useful these tools can be at the end of the day.l

“I believe their effectiveness would depend on many variables. For example, the nail polish method would only be effective if someone puts their fingers in a drink or wherever else the drug may have been placed,” said Florez. “Even if a person is able to detect the drug, there’s a chance it’s too late. The person may already feel the effects of the drug and not be conscious enough to do anything about it.”

If this is the reality, then there must be a third eye witness present to take action if a detection tool were to contract a positive result, according to Florez, but this isn’t guaranteed.


Feature Image retrieved from Flickr.

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