Alcohol, Drugs, Date Rape and Unwanted Pregnancy

“The contribution of alcohol and other drugs to sexual assault has been increasingly recognized during the last 15–20 years,” says an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ March, 2009). The authors report that 20.9 per cent of victims of sexual assault met the criteria for drug-facilitated sexual assault, also known as date rape.

As we know, rape occurs when sexual intercourse is non-consensual. A person forces another person to have sex against his or her will. It is not uncommon to find that drugs and alcohol are involved in the rape. Rape includes intercourse in the vagina, anus, or mouth. Rape is among the most serious crimes a person can commit. Men as well as women and children can be raped.

The person who commits rape uses violence and fear to force the person to have sex. Victims of rape are physically and emotionally traumatized. Unwanted pregnancy and infection may be some of the unfortunate outcomes.

Date rape occurs when a substance is administered to a person which lowers his or her sexual inhibition and increases the occurrence of unwanted sexual intercourse. Usually, the victim and the person who commits the crime are known to each other and have been together socially in the past.

Rape is common with an estimated lifetime risk of up to one in four for women. About 25 per cent of the 1400 women who contact the Canadian Sexual Assault Centre each year report that drugs were a factor in a rape.

The drugs used in date rape usually have no colour, smell or taste and can easily be mixed with different kinds of drinks without the victim’s knowledge.

Drugs most commonly used in date rape are alcohol, marijuana, benzodiazepines, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid), Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), and Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride). This list is extensive. Most of these drugs are often metabolized and excreted before the victim even perceives that a sexual assault may have occurred. Unfortunately, this contributes to the underreporting of drug-related sexual assault.

Alcohol is involved in most of the cases of date rape. Urine samples submitted by rape victims to treatment centers across the United States within 72 hours of a suspected drug-facilitated rape, alcohol was detected in 69 per cent of the samples, marijuana in 18 per cent and cocaine in 5 per cent.

The patient requires immediate attention regarding safety, management of injuries, forensic examination, emergency contraception, prophylaxis for sexually transmitted infections and psychosocial support.

Prevention is better than cure. If you are out drinking then vigilance is the key word. Drink your beverage slowly, keep an eye on your drink when mixed and obtain a fresh one after leaving the drink unattended. Do not accept drinks from strangers.

If you think that you have been drugged and raped then go to the police station or hospital right away. Get a urine test as soon as possible. Do not douche, bathe, or change clothes before getting help. You will destroy the evidence you need to find and convict the offender.

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