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Mardi, 10 Janvier 2012 15:00

Check Your Drink For Roofies

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From Wired How-To Wiki

One of the tell-tale signs of a Rohypnol-contaminated drink is a blue tint. Photo by Rosana Prada/flickr/CC

Introduction

Unless you have the rotating eye skills of a chameleon, it's hard to watch out for your drink at the same time you watch out for that cute guy on the dance floor. No matter how self-aware you are, there's always a chance of getting an unexpected pharmaceutical present in your beverage on a night out. Any drink, even an innocent tonic water, can turn into a cocktail that takes you to the Twilight Zone if it’s unattended. The secret ingredients are commonly referred to as "date rape drugs," and facilitated the raping of 200,000 women in the US in 2007 according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In this How-To, we'll teach you how you can avoid this party disfavor by increasing awareness and using simple DIY detection techniques.

Popular Date Rape Drugs

Photo by Neil Creek/flickr/CC

"Date rape drug" is the generic term encompassing all pharmaceutical substances that can cause a person to "black-out" (meaning they lose critical facilities, decision-making abilities, and even consciousness) in a short period of time. The three most common groups of drugs used in date rape assaults are GHB, Ketamine and Rohypnol, all of which are commonly referred to as “roofies.”

Most of these drugs are tasteless and colorless and therefore easily slipped into drinks. They can cause the recipient to enter a trance-like state, which sounds fun, but that often coincides with memory loss. The drug-induced amnesia effect is why these drugs are commonly used in conjunction with sexual assault, which is obviously no fun at all.

The pharmacological effects on the body are very rapid, and the effect is similar to undergoing anesthesia during surgery. When the recipient comes to after being roofied, they often feel disoriented and clueless about what happened while under the influence. So you wake up feeling like you were on an operating table and you didn't sign a release form, you could have been roofied.

Popular date rape drugs include:

Rohypnol

Also known as:Rophies, Roofies, R2, Roofenol, Roche, Roachies, La rocha, Rope, Rib, Circles, Mexican valium, Roach-2, Roopies, Ropies

Rohypnol is the trade name for the generic drug flunitrazepam, manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche. It acts as a central nervous system depressant, like valium, but is about ten times more potent — it can literally knock an elephant out. Rohypnol is not approved for sale in the United States but it is prescribed as a sleeping pill in countries outside of the United States, primarily Europe and South America. It is also used as a sedative hypnotic and a pre-anesthetic.

Roofies were usually colorless but they were reformulated since February 1999, so that they turn blue in a drink to be noticed. Cautious spikers using the new version of Rohypnol can still serve them in blue tropical drinks so the color is disguised.

The effects of Rohypnol set in within 15 to 20 minutes of administration and, depending on the amount ingested, may persist for more than 12 hours. It has been recently discovered that flunitrazepam can be detected in urine up to 5 days after ingestion of a single dose of Rohypnol and for up to a month in hair according to the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyerate)

Also known as:G, Liquid X, Liquid E, Scoop, Soap, Gook, Grievous Bodily Harm, Georgia Home Boy, Natural Sleep-500, Easy Lay, Gamma 10

GHB (Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate) is a sodium salt marketed by Jazz Pharmaceuticals under the name Xyrem. GHB is also a central nervous system depressant. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 strictly for use in the treatment of narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). GHB is also billed as a natural supplement to help build muscle mass, as very small amounts of GHB are found in the human body.

It usually is tasteless, but may be recognized at times by a salty aftertaste. GHB can be produced as a clear liquid, powder, or a tablet, but it is most commonly used as a liquid.

GHB side effects are usually felt within 5 to 20 minutes after ingestion and they usually last no more than two to three hours. The drug is rapidly eliminated from the body, often in less than a few hours, so GHB exposure is difficult to detect.

Ketamine

Also known as:K, Ket, Special K, Vitamin K, Vit K, Kit Kat, Keller, Kelly's day, Green, Blind squid, Cat valium, Purple, Special la coke, Super acid, Super C

Ketamine is an injectable liquid anesthetic intended for veterinary purposes (popularly known for its use as a horse tranquilizer). It has also been used in human medicine for pediatric burn cases, in dentistry, and in experimental psychotherapy. It produces an effect called "dissociative anesthesia," which is experienced as the mind and body being separated from each other. If taken in a sufficiently high dose, it can also produce a near-death experience, usually called a "K- hole” effect.

Ketamine takes effect in 5-20 minutes and the effects last 4-8 hours. Unlike Rohypnol and GHB, the dosage-effect relationship is well-known for ketamine. For instance, a human would reach a coma-like state of sedation with a dosage of 15mg/kg.

Drink Protection Devices

The best way to deal with drink-spiking crimes is to avoid getting the “present” in your drink in the first place.

The most basic line of defense is to hold your drink with one hand while using the free one as a cover, never accept drinks from strangers, and continuously survey the bartender while the drinks are being prepared and served. But this kind of hyper-moderation would likely limit your enjoyment of the night and you'd probably get some strange looks and reactions from gentlemen callers and the bartender. And even the most vigilant drink supervisor would have diminished observation skills as the drinks continued to flow.

Image from ToppsStoppa

Luckily, the popularity of devices designed to protect open bottles from being spiked has increased in the last few years. They are referred to as "stoppers" and they fit neatly onto open bottles. You can buy them online from ToppsStoppa, SafeFlo and Spikey.

ToppStoppa stoppers are conspicuous caps made of plastic in vibrant colors, so they will keep your drink safe while adding a colorful warning to keep potential predators at bay by letting them know you're no easy target. ToppStoppa sells individual caps that warn about bottle manipulation. These caps can be removed by the drinker by tearing off a tag which then leaves a tamper evident and permanent ring on the neck of the bottle.

Photo from SafeFlo
Photo from SafeFlo

Safeflo commercialized two types of caps, the straw cap and the flow cap. These devices just click onto a bottle to protect the drinker. They come in packs of six and cost less than $4. The Spikey caps only allow drinking through a straw and they are fitted inside the bottle neck. Once inserted into the neck of a bottle it cannot be easily removed and the straw cannot be easily tampered with. These stoppers are made of colored plastic and are fluorescent under UV light. You can buy 10 Spikey stoppers for approximately $8.

Drink Drug Detection Devices

If you're not satisfied that a potential attacker couldn't get past your protectant, or want something a little less conspicuous (maybe a stopper isn't your idea of a good conversation starter), you may want to move onto the chemical detection devices. While they don't provide completely accurate results, it certainly doesn't hurt to have one in your handbag.

The Coaster

A coaster can be a convenient complement to any drink. Drinksafe technologies have been commercializing GHB and Ketamine spike detection products under different names (and shapes) since 2002. Their two main products are The Drink Safe Coaster and the test strips, sold under the trade names: the Date Rape Detector, the Drink Guard and the Drink Spike Detector. The test trials were performed for soft drinks, cola drinks, cocktails, beers, vodkas, gin, whisky, and mixtures of these.

The Drinksafe coaster is so easy to use that you can be drunk and still operate it. Just place a drop of liquid on the coaster, with the straw or with your finger, and rub it gently. You'll need to wait a few minutes until the droplet dries, and if the spot turns blue, it's an indicator that one or more drugs could be in your drink (toss that cocktail now).

Note: This test does not work properly for wine-based drinks, beverages containing dairy products, fat liquors, tonic water or acidic beverages. In addition, tap and some mineral waters may cause a light blue color while drying out in the test area leading to confusion. The coasters are available online or at 7-Elevens for as little as 40 cents each.

The test strips operate in a very similar way: placing a couple of drops from the drink in question onto the active test spots will yield colorful results. Test strips are sold in a pack of two for $1.50.

The Drink Detective

Another popular and more complete test card is The Drink Detective, which tests specifically for the three main types of date-rape drugs. It consists of three parts, marked K (for ketamine), B (for benzodiazepine derivatives such as Rohpynol) and G (for GHB). To start the test, you just need to pour one drop of drink onto areas K and G, and four drops onto area B.

The results for the K and G zones should be read after 10 seconds, and after one minute for the B zone. If the K test area changes to red or orange, the passenger in your drink is Ketamine, whereas blue in the G zone may indicate the presence of GHB. In the B test, the appearance of one red-purple line may indicate the presence of benzodiazepine derivatives. If instead of one line, two lines appear, it means the test result is negative. And you're pregnant! Just kidding. Shut up and drink your cocktail.

This test has also some limitations when testing tomato or orange juice, tonic, or red wine for the K area. Limitations for GHB are the same as in the Safedrink coasters. For Rohypnol, the restrictions appear when checking drinks with a very high alcohol content (including brandy or whiskey). The price of the Drink Detective is around $7.

The Lipstick

The British cosmetics company 2LoveMyLips has created a lip gloss that doubles as a date-rape drug tester. Cool and innocent, the lip gloss comes with a set of pink test strips that can be easily dipped into a drink to test for GHB and ketamine. The strips turn blue straight away if the drink is spiked.

The lip-glosses can be bought in pharmacies in UK or alternatively online if you're outside of UK for approximately $15.

The Police Test

A simple test that was initially intended to help the authorities fight crime comes with the CSI-like name of MMC-GHB test. It consists of an ampoule containing a reagent in crystal form and it works by pouring a small amount of the GHB solution into the ampoule. If the drug is present it will produce a color change depending on the amount and purity of GHB. You can purchase them from the manufacturer, MMC America, in packs of ten for $18.

The Clever Straw

The more recently developed devices for testing date rape drugs hold promise for a much more efficient and reliable detection. Researchers from Tel Aviv University's school of chemistry have developed a sensor that can tell you in real time with a near-100% accuracy whether your drink contains GHB or Ketamine, or not.

The device, which was recently presented at the Nano Conference 2011 in Israel, looks like a straw or stirring stick, so it can be perfectly camouflaged in your beverage. It basically works by changing color from light to dark after sucking up a small sample of the drink and mixing it with a testing solution. In addition, it has a red light for enhancing detection in dark spaces.

Researchers are still working on making the system commercially available ad affordable. The disposable cartridge that recognizes the presence of a drug would be reusable up to three times and new cartridges would cost under a dollar each. They are also working on including Rohypnol in the detection range and of course, getting some investors on board so hopefully it will be widely available in a year or so.

Other improvements being considered by the Tel Aviv team involve the way the device warns you about the danger, including the possibility of the sensor sending a discrete text to the mobile phone of the drinker in case a drug is present. So, who knows, if the straw sends you a warning text, probably the bottle could call the police or autodestroy the coaster and send you home in a taxi if you're too drunk. But that would probably be in the next generation.

Useful Links

Here are some useful links to sites discussed in this article or sites worth checking out:

Original article by Pilar Carreras, Wired.com.


This page was last modified 04:28, 10 January 2012 by howto_admin.

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