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  Health
 
THE DOCTOR IS IN
By Philip S. Chua M.D.
Contributing Medical Editor
 
What you should know about Date-Rape
 

What are date-rape drugs?
Date-rape drugs, sometimes referred to as Party Drugs or simply
Ecstasy, are medications that can be slipped into drinks and make a person unconscious for 15 minutes or so. There have been reports of dozens of women in the United States who were under the influence of a date-drug known as GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), a clear and flavorless liquid, when they were raped. What is this drug legitimately used for? GHB, manufactured by Orphan Medical, a drug firm in Minnesota, was developed for the treatment of narcolepsy. In smaller doses, this drug induces euphoria (a sense of well-being). As a date-rape drug, GHB causes the victim to fall into a deep sleep, oblivious of the sexual assault until they wake up. Some do not even remember what had transpired.

What is narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a rare sleep disorder which causes the persons to nod off without notice. They just suddenly and rapidly fall asleep. There are about 100,000 people in the United States with this ailment. Orphan Medical states that GHB can help the patients who have the form of narcolepsy that is accompanied by temporary muscle paralysis.

How safe is GHB?
Used as a prescription drug for narcolepsy and taken as directed by the physician, GHB is safe. Its abuse as a date-rape drug has led to countless comas and several hundreds of deaths from overdose.

Is GHB legal?
Twenty states in the U.S., including Illinois and Michigan, have banned GHB, allowing police arrest those who manufacture or sell this drug. Eight states have listed GHB as a controlled substance with varying degrees of criminal penalties, making it available only as a prescription drug.

What other drugs have been used?
Ketamine and Rohypnol are both controlled substances which have been used as date-rape drugs. Other perpetrators have tried ordinary sleeping pills, which do not act fast enough and do not induce a deep enough level of unconsciousness, thus foiling the rape attempt.

Are some sold as dietary supplements?
Yes, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States warns the public against “more than half a dozen sleeps aids and party drugs in the guise of dietary supplements sold in health food stores and on the internet”, which are substances that are unregulated and can maim and kill.

Under what other names are they sold?
The FDA cautions the consumers not to use products containing GHB, GBL (gamma butylrolactone) or BD (1,4 butanediol). Some such drugs are sold under the name Revitalize Plus, Weight Belt Clenaer, GHRE, Serenity, Thunder Nectar, SomatoPro, Enliven, Tetramethylene glycol or 23H)-Furanone di-hydro, and NRG3. These drugs can cause severe nausea, vomiting, dangerously slow breathing or cessation of breathing, unconsciousness, seizures, and death.

Are there date-rape drinks?
Yes, three of them are Cherry fX Bombs, Orange fX Rush, and Thunder Nectar. The claim that these drinks are from Kava plant and are safe is not true. These and other date-rape beverages have BD (1,4 butanediol, an industrial solvent) in them.

How is the date-rape drug used?
The usual modus operandi of the perpetrator is to invite the woman to go out on a date with him. Most of these men are friends or acquaintances of the women. Some target victims are casual pick-ups in lounges and bars. The drug is discreetly poured into the drink, and moments later the victim is taken from the bar to a vehicle or to a secluded area or motel room, or raped right in her own home or wherever the party was.

Do victims have memory of the assault?
Some date-rape drug victims do not remember what had happened to them until they physically felt that they were assaulted. The drug blurs the memory somewhat for the most recent event. Some people are so sensitive to the drug that they overdose on it easily even on moderate amount.

How can women avoid these drugs?
The question may sound trite and the answer obvious, but nonetheless it is a most fundamental one, especially for the young and uninitiated ladies. The following set of advice may sound an over simplification but could be life-saving: (1) Never go out with a “stranger.” Having a liaison with a man you just met is risky and dangerous; (2) Also remember that many of the apprehended perpetrators were friends of the victims; (3) When on a date, at a restaurant or at home (his or even yours) watch your drink and your food with vigilance and care; (4) If you suspect “something,” stop drinking your cocktail and eating your food; (5) If you do not feel well at this point, get the assistance of the bar tender, the waitress or any woman; (6) Do not go with your date to the car; (7) If your suspicion is really strong, or if you actually witnessed your date slipping a drug into your drink or food, ask the waitress to “bag” the food for you to take home and have it tested for drugs at the toxicology lab of a hospital; (8) If this tested positive, hand over the evidence to the Police as you file a criminal complaint. Having said all this, we recommend caution and restraint: one should not be too paranoid, either, and be over suspicious of your date, because this, too, could spell a disaster. Be careful, be smart, enjoy your date.


***

The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities, and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

Philip S. Chua, M.D., is Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest
Indiana, where he practiced cardiovascular and thoracic surgery from 1972, after his Fellowship at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston Texas under the world-renowned heart transplant surgeon, Denton A. Cooley, M.D.

He retired from his practice in the USA in 2001 and is currently the Chairman of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Cebu Cardiovascular Center at Cebu Doctors’ Hospital in Cebu City, Philippines. He is also the Vice President for Far East Operations of the Cardiovascular Hospitals of America, a builder of heart centers in the United States and in the Far East, based in Wichita, Kansas. His email address is scalpelpen@gmail.com



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