Red Stripes Mean Unsafe
July 29, 2013 10:23 AM   Subscribe

A Boston inventor has created a cup and straw that detect the presence of date rape drugs. The cup and straw change color in the presence of the common date rape drug GHB.
posted by chrchr (92 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Awesome. Not soon enough, but good stuff.
posted by nevercalm at 10:26 AM on July 29, 2013


There should be a word for simultaneously being glad that something exists and also being furious that there is a need for it to exist. Because, seriously, it's not like it's hard to not rape women. I'm doing it right now.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:29 AM on July 29, 2013 [80 favorites]


Ah, yes, but do they change colour in the presence of alcohol, the number one date rape drug?
posted by looli at 10:30 AM on July 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


I dunno. This is cool, and it's a good cause, but I was under the impression that the majority of these types of rapes didn't involve GHB at all- just too much alcohol. Keep pushing drinks on a girl, or give her one that's stronger than she thinks, or wait for her to get drunk on her own and then corner her?

In a world where GHB just spontaneously appeared in peoples' drinks, this would be a great solution. But rapists will merely change their behavior when faced with this minor roadblock. (Switch the straw? Different drug? Just prey on drunk women?)
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


(the typo'd "gbh" tag means something somewhat different in the UK)
posted by elizardbits at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2013


I wonder how it works? ELIZA?
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2013


but do they change colour in the presence of alcohol

No
only GHB
posted by Greg Nog at 10:35 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Serious question: are there venues where GHB and other date rape drugs are common enough that people would use these cups? I mean, if there's a 1 out 100 chance of getting dosed, sure. But if the odds are 1 out of 100,000? I don't see widespread adoption.
posted by alms at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2013


(the typo'd "gbh" tag means something somewhat different in the UK)

I've actually invented a cup and straw which will detect the presence of GBH, but for some reason no one seemed to be interested in a device which allows you take a couple sips of something to determine whether or not you have been severely beaten recently.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also, eponysterical news outlet!
posted by alms at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, rape statistics are extraordinarily hard to collect and interpret... but everything I've seen says that GHB and other drugs are relatively minor minor hazards in our rape culture (in-fact- continuing to draw attention to them like this arguably distracts from the much more common & problem of unpremeditated rapes by people known to the victim).

An interesting invention & talking point - but its very implausible to suspect that many/any bars are going to adopt this for very very obvious reasons. (cost, noone wants a big sign reminding them of date rape before they order a drink and try to have a good time, legal liability and so on and so on). so 10/10 for effort but 0/10 for practical effect.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 10:45 AM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hmm. An issue with the straw is that it seems like if someone has both the opportunity and sleight-of-hand-ableness to slip GHB into your drink, then they may also be deft enough to swap out your straw for a non-detecting one.
posted by elizardbits at 10:46 AM on July 29, 2013


Interestingly, their indigogo page also mentiones testing for Ketamine and Rohypnol. It looks like they have similar colour-changing tests for those, but I can't find mention of them anywhere else.

Mitrovarr, I wondered about ELISA too, but wouldn't you need to have antibodies floating around in the liquid, to label the immobilied drug molecules? Can you have something like an immobilised antibody that distorts or self-cleaves to change colour, by e.g. FRET? I had a quick poke through their website but couldn't find anything about how it works. I'd guess their patent documents must have the details, but I don't know how to go looking for that. (And how easy would it be to get recombinant antibodies classed as being food-safe?)

Regardless, I want to see data on their tolerance for pH range and salinity. If I drop a lemon wedge in my drink, will it stop working?
posted by metaBugs at 10:47 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Daterape drugs are often associated with female victims, but Ambramson said men are drugged, too- often to be robbed.

I'm trying to understand the process here.

1) I slip up behind a stranger and sprinkle pixie dust in his drink. I guess he's looking away or in the bathroom or something. OK, that step works.

2) He keels over a few minutes later. I claim to be his friend and riffle through his pockets? Carry him out? "Help" him walk out, maybe, and then leave him in the alley.

Meanwhile I guess his actual friends are noticing nothing? Or he's drinking alone in the bar? Is this a thing that happens? I mean, I know people go alone and leave alone from bars, but in that case aren't they usually talking with their fellow barflys, why are going to notice my victim being helped out by a stranger?

I'm struggling to figure out how this happens, not being someone who frequents bars.
posted by DU at 10:48 AM on July 29, 2013


I can see this being useful in niche markets. Eg., someone clandestinely exchanging some of these cups for the normal plastic cups at whatever college frat on their campus is most notorious for sexual assaults.
posted by eviemath at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2013


On second thought, I'm an idiot. You could do it as an ELISA in exactly the way that pregnancy tests work. Except perhaps with less peeing.

Also, the two most recent searches in my work computer's history are now "rohypnol" and "pregnancy tests". Perhaps I should expect an awkward conversation with IT in the morning...
posted by metaBugs at 10:51 AM on July 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


I know of several people who were roofed by an employee of the restaurant or bar.
posted by brujita at 10:58 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Daterape drugs are often associated with female victims, but Ambramson said men are drugged, too- often to be robbed.

I'm trying to understand the process here.

1) I slip up behind a stranger and sprinkle pixie dust in his drink. I guess he's looking away or in the bathroom or something. OK, that step works.

2) He keels over a few minutes later. I claim to be his friend and riffle through his pockets? Carry him out? "Help" him walk out, maybe, and then leave him in the alley.


I used to work with a chef - arguably not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was a great and gregarious personality. He lived in Dorchester and he used to tell a story about the worst pickup of his life.

So he's clubbing, and he meets this girl, and she's interested, and the night gets late and he or she decide that he's going to go home. They sleep late and she's still there. It's been a night she's awesome, he's happy. He says he's got to go to work and she says that she just needs to shower before heading out. He gives her a kiss and heads off to work, thinking that she'll be leaving shortly thereafter.

From the neighbor's report, 30 minutes after he left a moving truck backed up, 100% of everything was emptied from his apartment - including a big screen TV and his dog. Needless to say, he never heard from her again.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:01 AM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ah, yes, but do they change colour in the presence of alcohol, the number one date rape drug?

Alcohol is frequently abused this way, yes, but if you are consuming an alcoholic beverage, presumably you are aware it contains alcohol, have drunk alcohol before, and have some way of predicting the results of your consumption. There are ways of concealing how MUCH alcohol is in a drink, but for the most part, you know what you're getting.

If someone puts GHB in a drink, the results can be, at best, unpredictable. Once when leaving work at 2 AM, a friend and I found a young woman unconscious in a parking garage. We were able to revive her - she alternated between asking if I was her savior and screaming FUCK YOU at me. She left in an ambulance, but not before having a horrifying seizure.

GHB can be fatal. Someone who puts GHB in your drink doesn't care if you live or die.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:04 AM on July 29, 2013 [14 favorites]


Serious question: are there venues where GHB and other date rape drugs are common enough that people would use these cups? I mean, if there's a 1 out 100 chance of getting dosed, sure. But if the odds are 1 out of 100,000? I don't see widespread adoption.

I have no idea about the actual stats, but most of my female friends (and several of my male friends, for that matter) make a point of watching their drinks closely, and only accepting drinks from strangers if they've watched the barkeep pour it. In the (British) university bars I've visited, drink spiking is presented as a real danger, with occasional campaigns in which staff or volunteers e.g. put little flags with awareness messages on unattended drinks. Obviously the level of caution doesn't necessarily say anything about the incidence, but awareness is high enough that there probably is a market for this.
posted by metaBugs at 11:06 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Back in the early 90's when the "date rape drug" scare was all the rage I had some "friends" that used to taqke these little pills to get wasted (this was before GHB had really hit the scene so to speak). Our college had a big assembly to tell all the kids the dangers of "roofies" which were the very bad scary things that we needed to be very scared of at the time. Long-story-short, turns out the little pills were roofies and my friends had been date-rape drugging themselves, except with a lot more movie watching and stereo listening.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:09 AM on July 29, 2013


I was just sitting here pleasantly daydreaming about other chemical solutions that could be introduced into a wide range of commercial products:

-- soap coloring that turns day-glo orange when it comes in contact with the skin of a person who doesn't grasp the concept of mutual consent

-- textile-thread coating that, when it's touched by a grabby mouthbreather, sprays them with skunk odor

-- bottled water additive or toothpaste flavoring that locks someone's jaws shut for 30 minutes every time they utter a catcall
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:09 AM on July 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


If these became common, I could see people roofie-ing themselves just to see their cup + straw change colors LIKE MAGIC!
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:11 AM on July 29, 2013


Bring on the electric sex pants!
posted by elizardbits at 11:12 AM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is this a solution to a problem that doesn't exist? Sort of like voter ID laws?
posted by Chuffy at 11:22 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alcohol is frequently abused this way, yes, but if you are consuming an alcoholic beverage, presumably you are aware it contains alcohol, have drunk alcohol before, and have some way of predicting the results of your consumption. There are ways of concealing how MUCH alcohol is in a drink, but for the most part, you know what you're getting.

When it comes to alcohol, people misjudge their limits all the time, especially if the drink has been engineered to be much stronger than expected, or if someone is actively plying people with drinks. This is especially true in college-age settings.

Of course GHB is many times worse, but alcohol is still very serious. It's not idle snark to point out that alcohol is far and away the drug most associated with sexual assault.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:25 AM on July 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is this a solution to a problem that doesn't exist? Sort of like voter ID laws?

No. That is a demonstrably ridiculous suggestion.
posted by elizardbits at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Obviously the level of caution doesn't necessarily say anything about the incidence, but awareness is high enough that there probably is a market for this.

This saddens me, because it means there are women who will buy into the marketing and think "oh, it didn't change color, I'm safe".
posted by ubernostrum at 11:36 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Voter ID laws also cause harms for disingenuous reasons. This straw causes no harm.

At "worst", overcaution about GHB would lead someone to watch their drink and to be aware of wooziness, etc.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:36 AM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder how it works? ELIZA?

A quick search shows that most dipstick-type assays for GHB have been based on enzymes that oxidize GHB coupled to a cofactor that changes color upon reduction. Kind of like glucose oxidase-based assays for glucose.

This isn't a particularly new idea. Again a quick web search shows that over the past couple of decades, GHB-detecting swizzle sticks, nail polish, etc. have been developed. None of these seem to have caught on.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:39 AM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or he's drinking alone in the bar? Is this a thing that happens? I mean, I know people go alone and leave alone from bars, but in that case aren't they usually talking with their fellow barflys, why are going to notice my victim being helped out by a stranger?

I usually go to bars alone, leave alone, and talk to no one but the bartender--preferably a single phrase, spoken once--the name of of my cocktail--with each successive order consisting of me pointing my glass. In fact, that's my idea of a perfect night out.
posted by dobbs at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Serious question: are there venues where GHB and other date rape drugs are common enough that people would use these cups?

Yes. I'm not sure any of my clubbing friends have not been drugged. It's hard to tell from our anecdata, but it doesn't seem to cluster much at any club, it seems like perhaps the bulk of it is done by just a few serial perps, who do it continuously, going to a wide range of different clubs. Because it's safe to do.

If so, that means it would only take a few arrests to make an entire city far far safer. A drinking straw is perfect. If it changes color, the perp won't know, the woman tells us all, pretends to drink it and get sleepy, perp moves in and acts as a friend who is "helping" the "drunk" girl "home". Thus identified, we can act.

Right now, it's very frustrating, because once she's actually drugged, either she gets help in time or she doesn't - either way the perp goes unidentified.

One problem is that I think GHB is merely one of several drugs used.
posted by anonymisc at 11:58 AM on July 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


Serious question: are there venues where GHB and other date rape drugs are common enough that people would use these cups?

People can be slipped these drugs basically anywhere. I know three people who have been slipped GHB (none were attacked, thankfully). One was a dude at the worst strip club in the world, the other two were women at house parties. Their own house parties!

I like straws, I would totally carry a bunch of these in my purse if they are not prohibitively expensive.
posted by troika at 12:16 PM on July 29, 2013


From my experience, probably closer to 1 in 100 or 1 in 50.

The statistics don't really back that up. Generally when someone believes they've been drugged they've actually just had way too much to drink and blacked out. The fraction of people who believe they've been drugged who test positive for date rape drugs is usually around 5%.

Not that being slipped strong drinks is any better, of course. But that's not what people usually mean when they talk about date rape "drugs".
posted by Justinian at 12:18 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It really is dismal that this is even a thing.
posted by thelonius at 12:18 PM on July 29, 2013


Can I get those in a silly straw format?

You know, for kids....
posted by Samizdata at 12:25 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fraction of people who believe they've been drugged who test positive for date rape drugs is usually around 5%.

I think that's partly (perhaps even mostly) a reflection of the wider range of drugs out in the wild than the drugs that are tested for.
posted by anonymisc at 12:40 PM on July 29, 2013


The statistics don't really back that up. Generally when someone believes they've been drugged they've actually just had way too much to drink and blacked out. The fraction of people who believe they've been drugged who test positive for date rape drugs is usually around 5%.

I am interested reading more about this, can you give a source?
posted by troika at 12:51 PM on July 29, 2013


There are coasters and stirrers that do this now, actually they detect Ketamine too. Afaik these test are only valid for a couple drinks though, not sure if the alcohol destroys those tests or what.

Is this cup and straw usable repeatedly, washable, etc.? Or would the washing machine damage the test? Is the cup body even touch enough to stand the washing machine?

A clear plastic camping cup with near infinitely reusable drug tests would totally rock regional burns, camping raves, etc. for numerous reasons : You must bring and look after your own cup anyways! You gift and receive drinks all over. Intentional users would enjoy showing off their cup's new color.

Or even better, why not make a fun sticker with tests that you'd attach to any cup?

Just fyi, I believe the worst drug slang I've ever heard is "liquid ecstasy", which referring to a small GHB doses, which supposedly folks quite enjoy when done right. If however some moron doing "liquid ecstasy" loans their drink to who quite understandably miss-interprets that as MDMA, then unfortunate things happen.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:55 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


A woman who used to work for me was drugged at the bar at the Fountainbleau in Miami during a work trip. She woke up in her hotel room the next day, with some strange guy sleeping next to her. She screamed, he left. (most likely was NOT the guy who slipped her the drug). She had no recollection of the evening before, even though she had a receipt in her purse for a cab ride and a drink at another bar down the strip. I was the senior person on the trip, so I handled it with the hotel security and the Miami Dade police. The two FEMALE police officers were obnoxiously dismissive and just assumed she got drunk and didn't remember. Well, we went to a drug testing clinic and she tested positive for a load of horrible stuff, including a synthetic heroin. It was an eye opening experience as to how uninterested the police were and how she avoided a real catastrophe. We both think the person who drugged her lost sight of her when she either went outside for a smoke or to the bathroom. I think the glasses are a good thing.
posted by Kokopuff at 12:55 PM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean, if there's a 1 out 100 chance of getting dosed, sure. But if the odds are 1 out of 100,000?

But even if it happens at the latter rate, if that's per-drink, then you have a 1 in 100 chance over every 1000 drinks, right? So for someone who averages 10 drinks per week you'd hit that level of likelihood every two years. And I don't know how these drugs taste but if any of them don't require alcohol to mask the flavor you'd need to count non-alcoholic drinks too.
posted by XMLicious at 1:03 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see these catch on. It can't hurt, after all. If they're not priced much more expensively than the average cup, then college groups could adopt them easily for events.
posted by zarq at 1:05 PM on July 29, 2013


I donated to this indiegogo campaign when it was first announced.* I party and drink with the best of them, and while I've never heard of this happening to one of my friends, it has not escaped my notice that it does happen. We already modify our behavior at bars, by monitoring our drinks and watching out for each other. A package of straws put in the largest purse and handed out discretely would make the night safer, and who doesn't want that?



*Because of this, when these go to market, I'm going to get a package of straws sent to my door, and I'm quite pleased about this
posted by jenlovesponies at 1:25 PM on July 29, 2013


I believe outcomes will improve dramatically the more that folks see a visual indicator of their drink's contents. Ignoring intentional dosing for date rape, just the accidental consumption, miss-dosing, etc. provides enough justification.

I've one female rave friend who got raped by a stranger while under the influence of drugs she believes she took voluntarily from a third party, maybe the friends who brought her, probably some evil liquid Ketamine. I've one male friend who accidentally drank someone's "liquid ecstasy" while clubbing alone, but recognized the circumstances before the GHB took effect, so he could find a babysitter at the club and text real friends.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:26 PM on July 29, 2013


According to his campaign they haven't settled on the final chemical test yet, but the promised 100 straws for $25 sounds quite inexpensive compared with similar products.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:42 PM on July 29, 2013


I think that's partly (perhaps even mostly) a reflection of the wider range of drugs out in the wild than the drugs that are tested for.

Further on the topic of questionable hospital competence on this issue, you also have to remember that self-identified druggings are a tiny fraction of the revelry-related ER admissions, and when someone is admitted for blackouts or loss of control, the official procedure in many places appears to be "roll eyes then treat for alcohol poisoning, case closed".

It's a common enough mistake that we even have a case right here on Mefi of an ER misdiagnosing rape drugs as alcohol, and that would have been the end of that, except that AskMefi replied that it didn't entirely sound like alcohol.

Who knows what the real incidence is.
posted by anonymisc at 1:45 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]




I usually go to bars alone, leave alone, and talk to no one but the bartender--preferably a single phrase, spoken once--the name of of my cocktail--with each successive order consisting of me pointing my glass. In fact, that's my idea of a perfect night out.

And you are...Ron Swanson? Oh wait, you mentioned a cocktail...so close.
posted by Edgewise at 2:07 PM on July 29, 2013


One thing I hate about this whole thing is the idea that a given drug is Evil. GHB is actually quite lovely in its own way, and hasn't been illegal for all that long.
Its bad reputation is mostly because of how poorly it mixes with alcohol, and that it requires actual attention to dosage. But it's far, far, from Evil. Meth or Heroin it ain't.
posted by flaterik at 2:08 PM on July 29, 2013


mostly street drugs or prescription pharmaceuticals taken by the victims themselves, and above all alcohol was the common theme.

Wow, that's an infuriatingly bad study. Street drugs and prescription pharmaceuticals ARE the rape drugs, they're far less difficult to obtain than GHB (which seems to be what the study is looking for), and perps don't even need a drug that impairs - all they need is something with negative interactions with alcohol, which is... quite a lot of things.

It wouldn't surprise me if it's also a regional problem (as I said - I think the perps are very few but very serial), which might also explain some studies coming up empty while some places it's clearly a significant problem, and I'm fully aware that erroneous claims are common (there are lots of powerful incentives), but when you know so many people afflicted, medically confirmed too, having someone call it an urban legend is infuriating.

I also wonder - did they really have all those people saying "Yes, I willingly took those illegal street drugs", or was it more a case of "she said she didn't take it herself but obviously she'd say that."
posted by anonymisc at 2:21 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alcohol is frequently abused this way, yes, but if you are consuming an alcoholic beverage, presumably you are aware it contains alcohol, have drunk alcohol before, and have some way of predicting the results of your consumption. There are ways of concealing how MUCH alcohol is in a drink, but for the most part, you know what you're getting.

Someone may have pointed this out, but there is something that really needs to be taught to kids and those so worried about date rape drugs. When people talk about being "black out drunk", it doesn't mean you are unconscious, you are just so drunk you can't form new memories during that time, and if you are a heavy drinker usually, you may seem relatively sober. So many times people freak out that they have been drugged, but actually just drank to the point that memories of it can't be formed, and they think they are good enough drinkers that they would never drink to black out, but did. I'm not saying it never happens, but i think people would be better off being educated about what those drinks do normally anyway.
posted by usagizero at 2:31 PM on July 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I assumed the drugs which were "taken by the victims themselves" in the article I linked above were drugs that either required snorting or smoking to achieve the required effects, and which would therefore be difficult to "sneak"into the intended recipient's system, leaving the researchers to conclude they were taken voluntarily.

The last paragraph is what I found the most interesting- it says that none of the 97 people who presented as having their drinks spiked in a year in a hospital in Perth had actually been drugged. I think that a more useful application of time and effort would go towards recognising and stopping the kind of people who ply others with alcohol and more alcohol, because it seems very likely that in almost every case, that's the problem. Buying doubles for someone who thinks she (or he) is getting singles and making sure they never have an empty glass is a cheap, easy, and effective way to incapacitate someone, especially if they're not expecting it.
posted by cilantro at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2013


It is wrong to call date rape drugging an urban legend, since it clearly does happen at a significant rate. It's just that the act of surreptitiously sneaking in a date rape drug into someone's drink is nowhere near as common as blacking out and/or rape under the influence of alcohol.

It is very difficult to test for some drugs, such as GHB (which leaves the system after 12 hours or so), so we'll never know an exact rate at which these drugs are used. However, regardless of the drug(s) in play, rape is rape. We may never have perfect data about what drugs are where, but the same basic drinking safety principles apply either way, as do the same basic principles of consensual sex.

...

So many times people freak out that they have been drugged, but actually just drank to the point that memories of it can't be formed, and they think they are good enough drinkers that they would never drink to black out, but did. I'm not saying it never happens, but i think people would be better off being educated about what those drinks do normally anyway.

Yeah, I'm not a heavy drinker, but I do black out unusually easily on the few occasions that I do drink heavily, and in the real sense that you're talking about. As a matter of fact, I was at a wedding just this past weekend, where the bride had arranged for a scavenger hunt bar crawl. It got hairy. I have zero memory of the last hour or two of that particular evening. My last memories of the night were that of tiredness, but not of especially strong drunkenness. My SO said that I acted completely normally, paying the cab and so on, and then I ordered room service and promptly fell asleep. I woke up next to an uneaten cheeseburger.

This does not diminish the reality of rape or the horror of having been slipped something. But, it is important to note that people black out on alcohol all the time, and that being black out drunk does not have anything to do with the appearance of drunkenness.

The point is not that date rape drugs are "no big deal", but rather that alcohol is still the most common date rape drug of all. Drinking should be fun and safe, but alcohol is serious business, even when GHB, etc. are not in play. There are men who will willfully ply women with alcohol, sneaking in much more than they would anticipate, and this is serious, too, but even if every drop of alcohol had been voluntarily and knowingly drunk, alcohol is still a serious business drug.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:57 PM on July 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I assumed the drugs which were "taken by the victims themselves" in the article I linked above were drugs that either required snorting or smoking to achieve the required effects,

I don't think so. Most of the drugs I'm aware of people using recreationally are taken orally. But again, that will depend on the scene, the regulatory environment, what's available, etc.
Most of my experience is in the USA, which is obviously a different scene from the countries mentioned.
posted by anonymisc at 3:03 PM on July 29, 2013


I also wonder - did they really have all those people saying "Yes, I willingly took those illegal street drugs", or was it more a case of "she said she didn't take it herself but obviously she'd say that."

No, they said they willingly took them. I wrote about it here. The reality is that drug use is highly stigmatized amongst women and many rape victims know that if they admit to drug use, they won't be believed or will be less likely to be believed. This may be the reason William Kennedy Smith got off on his case: the victim apparently went away in the middle of the encounter to buy coke and then came back, but never admitted to it. That made it look like she was lying because she didn't give a coherent explanation for why she went away and came back. Prosecutors often have to really, really push victims to be open about their using because otherwise, they lose the cases in situations like this. Of course, the victims fear being prosecuted themselves, too.

The victims were open with the researchers in the study because there was no reason for them to lie: they were going to be anonymous.

Also, people's tolerance to drugs varies widely depending on their mood and setting. A dose of alcohol that barely affects you in one setting may black you out in another. This tends to mean that people think they got dosed many times when they did not.

Clearly, there are some asshole rapists out there who will do this but I think this whole idea is probably a waste of money because they are relatively rare and because what about false negatives? It would make you incorrectly think all is well when it wasn't. With all the new synthetics out there, this will never be able to keep up. False positives will also be an issue.

Might be useful to test what you've got as far as illegal drugs, but I don't think this makes sense to prevent rape.
posted by Maias at 3:25 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


(On an unrelated note, I don't really like calling these things date rape drugs, 'cos that's not how I see them used. Every combination of everything happens, sure, but the encounters in my scene have been in clubs, not on dates, with the evidence suggesting people targeting women they don't know who look like they're alone, more than friends being evil. So I just call them rape drugs, or drug attacks, or roofies, or whatever. Adding the word "date" seems to lend confusion more than clarity. YMMV.)
posted by anonymisc at 3:33 PM on July 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Clearly, there are some asshole rapists out there who will do this but I think this whole idea is probably a waste of money because they are relatively rare and because what about false negatives? It would make you incorrectly think all is well when it wasn't. With all the new synthetics out there, this will never be able to keep up. False positives will also be an issue.

This is all true. But I don't intend to use the straws for safety. I have hope that once we have the straws, it may be only a matter of time until one or two people in our area end up behind bars as a direct result, and that once that happens, drinking will suddenly miraculously revert to being as safe as traditional alcohol poisoning :)
posted by anonymisc at 3:54 PM on July 29, 2013


GHB can be fatal. Someone who puts GHB in your drink doesn't care if you live or die.

GHB was my favorite recreational drug until it almost killed me (or I almost killed myself by taking the wrong amount at the wrong time but this isn't about that) and now I am sad that I can't get it or take it any more.

But it works like this: it's a colorless liquid and less than a teaspoon in a drink can render someone almost unconscious. In an overdose situation you have a seizure and/or stop breathing but in a regular roofie dose someone just seems like they get really drunk really quickly. And alcohol exacerbates the effect, so while you can just put it in a ginger ale, someone drinking a cocktail will get super fucked up/out of it. So someone is sipping their spiked drink and then all of the sudden (to the person) they're like immediately "I can't stay awake" sleepy and (to other people) someone's there saying "Woah I think they've had enough I'm going to take them home..." For someone who hasn't been tracking the person's intake the entire time, it's plausible. For someone who it happens to, it's scary because you're basically suddenly pretty incapacitated but it can feel like getting really super drunk and you're just really tired. And, yeah, you could also die which is insult to injury if someone's just trying to knock you out to rape you.

So, while in some cases you pass completely out and someone carries you out, in many cases you sort of stumble out on your way to actually passing out. And you can be sort of amnesiac afterwards, especially if you were also drinking.

The drugs used to be (and probably still are) incredibly easy to get for cheap over the internet and easy to carry pretty innocuously on your person. This was great if you were a club kid who just wanted to stay high all night on your own. Bad if you're squirreling the stuff away to use it on someone else. The whole scenario is really icky and I have a hard time getting my head around the idea that drugging and raping someone would ever under any circumstances be a thing someone would want to do, just highlighting that the way the drug works it would be a lot more straightforward (and cheaper) than just feeding someone drinks.
posted by jessamyn at 4:44 PM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Re-purposable as a GHB test kit. So, as least as useful to the rapist confirming that what he has is what he thinks he bought.
posted by telstar at 6:18 PM on July 29, 2013


I've been roofied. Thankfully, while I was alone at the time, I was waiting for friends, and I was a regular at the club. When the guy who dosed me tried the "oh man, I should get her home" routine, the owner of the club was all "I don't know you, but I do know her, and I don't think so." The owner propped me up in the manager's office until my friends got there, and had the bouncers hold the guy until the cops got there. It was near 6th street in Austin, so it took the cops almost zero time to get there, and they made me go by ambulance to the hospital. (I don't remember anything after doing a lemon shot with the guy.)
posted by dejah420 at 7:10 PM on July 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Did you get the results of the drug screening? What happened to the guy?
posted by ShutterBun at 7:46 PM on July 29, 2013




I've had a few friends roofied and one I witnessed first hand. It was awful. She was hysterically sobbing on the street while we waited for a cab apologizing to me for doing this to me. This to me I guess was getting drunk? It was unclear but there was nothing I could do to console her. A friend helped me get her into a cab which I needed because she was in a heap on the floor. We decided we needed to get some food in her so we went back to friend's apartment which was in the same building we were staying. He made us grilled cheese sandwiches while she threw up non stop for an hour and we nervously monitored her trying to decide at what point we call 911. She stops throwing up and seems moderately ok. I get her to quasi walk back to her apartment and put her to bed around 2 am. The next day rolls around she's not in class which doesn't surprise me. I don't hear from her all day so I'm worried and I call at 5 pm and I wake her up. She'd slept for 15 hours straight and would have kept sleeping if not for me. She had NO memory of anything after the bar. We are talking a minimum of 2-3 hours of nothing. I actually think she went back to sleep after getting off the phone with me.

I am very good friends with this person. Through our years together in school we got drunk many a time. She can hold her liquor (far better than me) and I know how much she drank that night give or take 1-2 drinks. I have a much lower tolerance than her and drank the same amount. I was drunk but normal I need to eat a lot of pizza drunk not black out, throwing up drunk. Not even kind of. I had never seen her like this EVER.

Some guys had bought her a shot at the bar, which was almost certainly the source. We were in a foreign country in a sketchy bar frequented by backpackers, so the bartender was likely in on it. She remembers seeing him pour the shot in front of her. Luckily she was surrounded by a lot of friends who weren't going to leave any soldier behind and I think the rapists quickly scattered when they realized that and weren't looking for a fight.

GHB is terrifying.
posted by whoaali at 8:26 PM on July 29, 2013


Wikipedia has a bit on Drug facilitated sexual assault: Frequency of occurrence:
One study of 1,179 urine specimens from victims of suspected DFSAs in 49 American states found six (0.5%) positive for Rohypnol, 97 (8%) positive for other benzodiazepines, 451 (38%) positive for alcohol and 468 (40%) negative for any of the drugs tested for. A similar study of 2,003 urine samples of victims of suspected DFSAs found less than 2% tested positive for Rohypnol or GHB. A three-year study in the UK found two percent of 1,014 rape victims had sedatives detected in their urine 12 hours after the assault. A 2009 Australian study found that of 97 instances of patients admitted to hospital believing their drinks might have been spiked, tests were unable to identify a single case where a sedative drug was likely to have been illegally placed in a drink in a pub or nightclub, with 9 plausible cases from within the study.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:11 PM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's too bad it's the red stripe is what appears when it's not safe. If it were the other way around one could only imagine the marketing possibilities.
posted by Blue_Villain at 5:04 AM on July 30, 2013


Theophile, GHB and rohypnol both tend to be undetectable in the bloodstream within 12 hours, iirc, so the study you're quoting from isn't necessarily the whole of the story. GHB Rohypnol

These sorts of assaults often aren't reported until days later, so incidence of drugs other than alcohol can be tough to know.
posted by kavasa at 5:33 AM on July 30, 2013


Will this straw actually make it safer though? Or will it instill false confidence in those using it that their drink is safe when it could have some other drug in it?
posted by nolnacs at 6:58 AM on July 30, 2013


kavasa: Scientists sometimes do know what they're doing. The test results studied are usually taken within the time frame you mention.

For example: A prospective observational study of 101 patients presenting to metropolitan hospital ED with suspected drink spiking within the previous 12 h. Clinical history, including details surrounding the alleged drink spiking incident, and examination. Blood ethanol concentration measurement, together with the analysis of urine and blood samples for illicit and sedative drugs.
RESULTS:

Of the 97 alleged drink spiking cases included, there were only 9 plausible cases. We did not identify a single case where a sedative drug was likely to have been illegally placed in a drink in a pub or nightclub. Illicit drugs were detected in 28% of the study group. Ethanol was commonly detected, with the mean number of standard drinks consumed being 7.7 +/- 3.9 SD, and the median blood ethanol concentration at the time of presentation was 0.096% (96 mg/dL). At follow-up there were no major sequelae and no police prosecutions. Thirty five per cent of patients still believed that they had been a victim of drink spiking irrespective of the results.
CONCLUSION:

Our study did not reflect the current public perception of drink spiking. Drink spiking with sedative or illicit drugs appears to be rare. If drink spiking does occur, ethanol appears to be the most common agent used. Of greater concern was the frequency of illicit drug use and excessive ethanol consumption within the study population, making it difficult to determine whether a person had truly had a drink spiked.
So spiking appears to be quite rare and the great majority of people who believe they've had drinks spiked just had wayyyy too much to drink and often continue to believe they were drugged when presented with evidence to the contrary.

The fear of being drugged distracts from the real threat of overindulging in (or being deliberately given) an excess of alcohol. We're very bad at judging risk and tend to focus too much on rare but dramatic risks instead of commonplace ones. So being slipped a drug does happen and people should be aware of it but too much focus gets put on that (very low) risk compared to simply being more careful with alcohol. Which is easier to do and more likely to be beneficial.
posted by Justinian at 11:16 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


So being slipped a drug does happen and people should be aware of it but too much focus gets put on that (very low) risk compared to simply being more careful with alcohol.

In many areas and for many people, presumably that's decent advice, but I'd say that in my social life at least, drug spiking has been responsible for more terrifying near-tragedy than alcohol has been. Perhaps because we're an older set less interested in drinking to excess, and perhaps because we were also in an area active with drug attacks, but alcohol on its own has never - in my limited life experience so far - caused the kind of incidents that drug attacks have.

I don't really notice this proposed dichotomy that watching your drinks somehow distracts from knowing your limits. Maybe knowing two separate things is a problem for some people that I haven't met.
posted by anonymisc at 12:31 PM on July 30, 2013


Sorry, that sounds harsher than I mean it, but the popular undertone (sometimes explicit) that concern about drugs will be to the detriment of alcohol awareness rings kind of exaggerated to me. If drug attacks ceased to be a thing overnight and everyone stopped worrying about it, I doubt you'd see any corresponding improvement in drinking alcohol more responsibly. I don't think the two things are as connected as people seem to fear.
posted by anonymisc at 12:38 PM on July 30, 2013


Scientists sometimes do know what they're doing.

Apparently not in this case though. According to the methods, they studied admittances where drink spiking was suspected, yet we already know that victims wake up in the ER and are erroneously informed they had alcohol poisoning, because no-one bothers to check, because everyone assumes just another idiot drunk chick.
posted by anonymisc at 12:44 PM on July 30, 2013


anonymisc: I think it's similar to the panic over stranger kidnapping of children taking attention away from far more likely dangers. People only have so much attention and worry to give. In some very real senses paying attention to one thing takes away attention from something else. Hell, you'll see the same criticism about certain types of cancer getting so much attention that it takes away attention from other, just as common, types.

So it's not an out-there concern.

According to the methods, they studied admittances where drink spiking was suspected

For your criticism to be valid drink spiking would have to be a bunch more common in cases where it is not suspected than where it is suspected. That seems unlikely for tautological reasons.
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It doesn't seem very much like stranger danger to me. Perhaps in people new to alcohol it's a problem, but normally it seems more that watching your drinks is like keeping your car locked, and knowing how much you're drinking is like remembering where you parked. They're separate activities that don't interfere.

For your criticism to be valid drink spiking would have to be a bunch more common in cases where it is not suspected than where it is suspected. That seems unlikely for tautological reasons.

You're not doing the numbers. The admittances where no-one is thinking about assault are of far greater number than the admittances where assault is suspected. It would take only a very small proportion of alcohol poisonings to be merely assumed rather than actual to invalidate the conclusion, and we know those assumptions are too common - in part (I assume) because of studies like this.
posted by anonymisc at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2013


It's good to watch your drinks, but it is a huge mistake to think that alcohol is predictable. There are too many factors that go into alcohol intoxication for people to accurately predict what will happen. Merely counting drinks will not protect you from potentially dangerous levels of inebriation, even if you are an experienced drinker.

It would take only a very small proportion of alcohol poisonings to be merely assumed rather than actual to invalidate the conclusion, and we know those assumptions are too common - in part (I assume) because of studies like this.

From the study itself:
As a key stakeholder, the WA Police Service conducted a concurrent drink spiking awareness and prevention campaign. Members of the public were encouraged to attend either the SCGH or JHC ED if they or their friends believed that they had been a victim of drink spiking. The police provided assurance to the public that detection of voluntary illicit drug taking as part of the drug screen would remain confidential to the study project and not involve prosecution.

Patients aged 16 years and over who either self-presented or were brought to the ED by police, paramedics, friends or relatives believing that they or the patient had had their drink spiked were recruited. For inclusion, all cases had to be within 12 h of the alleged drink spiking event or still exhibit signs or symptoms of intoxication at the time of presentation. Clinical staff also enrolled cases with altered conscious state or behaviour where they had reasonable suspicion that drink spiking might be implicated. Retrospective consent was obtained from these patients; however, if they chose not to continue to participate in the study, biological samples collected earlier were destroyed.

Blood and urine samples were sealed with tamper-proof security tape and placed in a dedicated locked refrigerator. In all cases the ‘chain of evidence’ was preserved through required signatories for sample handover to the toxicology laboratory.
Not only were police, staff, and the public all actively encouraged to report suspected drink spiking, but patients were recruited for the study merely for self-presenting.

Drink spiking obviously occurs, but it is far less common than problems stemming from volitional intoxication, whether it's just alcohol or it's alcohol mixed with other drugs. It's also worth noting that uppers can be just as dangerous as downers: someone who is using cocaine or Adderall may drink much more than they otherwise would, due to an illusory sensation of sobriety.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:50 PM on July 30, 2013


It's also worth noting that uppers can be just as dangerous as downers: someone who is using cocaine or Adderall may drink much more than they otherwise would, due to an illusory sensation of sobriety.

Speaking of which, I've had my drink spiked with uppers. All kinds of drink spiking happens.
posted by anonymisc at 2:59 PM on July 30, 2013


It would take only a very small proportion of alcohol poisonings to be merely assumed rather than actual to invalidate the conclusion

See Sticherbeast's comment above.

We have data and evidence and we have anecdotes and feelings. You seem to be taking the position that the latter should trump the former.
posted by Justinian at 3:02 PM on July 30, 2013


We have data and evidence

No, you don't. By all descriptions provided, the study did not study the people it needed to be studying.
posted by anonymisc at 3:06 PM on July 30, 2013


The study recruited anyone who themselves suspected drink-spiking, let alone anyone whose condition was suspected by a police officer, health professional, friend, et al. Those were people that they needed to be studying, unless you are saying that drink-spiking is only likely when literally no one suspects it, not even the subject.

Again, drink-spiking obviously does happen. It's just not as common as most people think, especially when compared to other forms of inebriation.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:31 PM on July 30, 2013


unless you are saying that drink-spiking is only likely when literally no one suspects it, not even the subject.

Yes - we know there are cases where no-one suspects. In the case I linked to, person wakes up in ER, can't remember what happened, ER informs her authoritatively that it was a case of too much alcohol. Translated, we now know, that apparently meant "You were impaired on a Saturday night, so obviously there was no investigation necessary, it was your own dumb fault. Alcohol is quite a dangerous drug you know!".

That diagnosis-by-false-assumption was quite probably driven by flawed studies such as these, giving weight to the idea that druggings are "an urban legend". The ER's records in these cases naturally then go on to enhance and increase the flaws in the studies, by erroneously listing drug assualts as alcohol incidents, in a circle of self-reinforcement of error. It sounds like it was only by the dumbest of luck that she later asked the internet about alcohol poisoning and then random strangers on the internet were more perceptive about it than her doctors, and in time for testing to confirm.

(As I already mentioned, I am also of the suspicion that it varies widely by scene - I expect that some studies that concluded "no drugging is happening here", come to that conclusion precisely because no drugging was happening there. But there are actual drug assaults taking place around my scene, it's not uncommon.

I use my seat belt, even though (averaging every day of my life) it could be claimed I am statistically in less danger of needing it than I am of being drugged. If someone told me I shouldn't concern myself so much with the seat belt, just avoid using the phone while driving because that's a much greater danger, I wouldn't be turning to them for further safety advice.
(As it happens, I metaphorically don't wear the seatbelt - I wear my actual seatbelt, but I don't bother to watch my drink, because I'm not the target demographic.)
posted by anonymisc at 4:29 PM on July 30, 2013


No, you don't. By all descriptions provided, the study did not study the people it needed to be studying.

This is nuts. First, it's just one study out of a bunch of data giving similar results. It just happens to be the one I linked to as an example. Secondly, you're claiming with a straight face that looking at people suspected of having their drinks spiked when studying whether people have had their drinks spiked is wrong.

what is this i don't even
posted by Justinian at 5:14 PM on July 30, 2013


what is this i don't even

You can't see any problem in using a methodology that is blind to the false negatives, then concluding something about the number of positives? Seriously?
posted by anonymisc at 5:17 PM on July 30, 2013


No, I think you're both dramatically overstating any problems with the methodology because you don't want the results to be accurate (the description talks about testing people brought to the ER by ambulances and such and presenting with acute intoxication which is very nearly exactly the situation you claim needs to be checked) and overstating the implications even if the methodology was flawed in the way you claim it were flawed. Which it isn't.

I mean, even if you were right about the methodology, for your criticism to be valid the rate of spiking in people not suspected of having been spiked would have to be dramatically higher than the rate in people suspected of having been spiked for it to matter. And you'd need to present some pretty dramatic evidence for such a proposition rather than just assert it baselessly. Because it seems absurd on its face.

You're more or less claiming that absence of evidence of spiking is evidence of spiking because spikers are so darn clever. Or something.
posted by Justinian at 5:29 PM on July 30, 2013


for your criticism to be valid the rate of spiking in people not suspected of having been spiked would have to be dramatically higher than the rate in people suspected of having been spiked for it to matter.

I already debunked this. The routineness of un-suspicious impaired people vastly outnumbers the few cases of people who assume they have been assualted, only a slight margin of error swamps the study. Furthermore, that routineness is exactly what drives the assumptions of alcohol - the assumption is almost always correct.

You're more or less claiming that absence of evidence of spiking is evidence of spiking because spikers are so darn clever. Or something.

Perhaps you should pay attention. The blindness to false positives is an unnecessary flaw in the methodology, nothing to do with cleverness, your strawmen are silly.
posted by anonymisc at 5:38 PM on July 30, 2013


I should add that in my anecdotal experience, people who are drugged often do not suspect they have been drugged (especially initially). I understand that this may sound very unlikely to you in a sea of people claiming they were drugged, and lead to you be so dismissive, but people simply assuming they just drank too much is not an edge case, it's very normal. (It often takes something else about the situation to tip friends off.)
posted by anonymisc at 5:46 PM on July 30, 2013


("people simply assuming they just drank too much" - or being told they drank too much, by people who should know better.)

also - false positives negatives
posted by anonymisc at 5:52 PM on July 30, 2013


you don't want the results to be accurate

FWIW, while the studies I've seen to date have been too tiny and too regional and too brief to be very useful, in this study, putting aside its flaws, once you rephrase their conclusion as "65% later concluded their drinks had not been spiked, but in almost one in ten suspicious impairments, we could not rule out drink spiking" I think their results are quite within the ballpark of the not-insignificant problem I've experienced. Their use of the phrase "quite rare" is relative to contexts that aren't relevant if you're a scene regular. Is (pulling figure out of thin air) approx 0.2 times per year per high-risk constant-clubgoer "rare" or "common" - I call that common. If they want to call that rare, well, I'll think they're assholes (by that token most crime is "extremely rare"), but if they're primarily interested in a different context, whatever.
posted by anonymisc at 6:28 PM on July 30, 2013


The blindness to false positives is an unnecessary flaw in the methodology

There were no positives in the study so its hard to see how there could have been false positives.

In any case between the two of us only one of us has even bothered to post any actual numbers or data. You can try to poke holes in it all you want, until you come up with some facts of your own it's clear what's going on.
posted by Justinian at 6:43 PM on July 30, 2013


false positives.

Or... you could have read what I wrote and seen the correction, so I don't think you're interested in hearing me out, so yeah, we're done here.
posted by anonymisc at 6:51 PM on July 30, 2013


Roofied drinks are sounding more and more like the "Brown Recluse Spider bite" of the club scene. They both technically exit, they both get reported anecdotally an hell of a lot, but are VERY seldom (if ever) proven. Meanwhile the more reputable sounding doctors and scientists are telling us it's much ado about nothing, while the media and email forwards are screaming that we're all in imminent danger.

It is not the skeptic's job to prove the non-existence (or scarcity) of the "drugged drink" scenario (though it seems to have been done rather handily here), it's the claimant's responsibility to demonstrate the presence (or prevalence) of drugged drinks, which has not been done at all, beyond "it happened to me" or "it happened to my friends." While nobody is being called dishonest, (or even merely mistaken) obviously anecdotal evidence is insufficient for a discussion of legal or medical realities.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:43 PM on July 30, 2013


Yes - we know there are cases where no-one suspects. In the case I linked to, person wakes up in ER, can't remember what happened, ER informs her authoritatively that it was a case of too much alcohol. Translated, we now know, that apparently meant "You were impaired on a Saturday night, so obviously there was no investigation necessary, it was your own dumb fault. Alcohol is quite a dangerous drug you know!".

That is a separate issue, and it has nothing to do with the accuracy of these studies. Yes, there are false negatives. There are also, on average, many more false positives, i.e. on average, you are much more likely to suspect that your drink (or your patient's drink) has been spiked than you are to have actually had a spiked drink.

That diagnosis-by-false-assumption was quite probably driven by flawed studies such as these, giving weight to the idea that druggings are "an urban legend". The ER's records in these cases naturally then go on to enhance and increase the flaws in the studies, by erroneously listing drug assualts as alcohol incidents, in a circle of self-reinforcement of error. It sounds like it was only by the dumbest of luck that she later asked the internet about alcohol poisoning and then random strangers on the internet were more perceptive about it than her doctors, and in time for testing to confirm.

It's a terrible story for her, but at the risk of sounding cold, from a big picture standpoint, that story is an anecdote. In and of itself, it does not say anything about the rates at which these things occur. Drink-spiking most definitely happens, just as I am also sure that some people are misdiagnosed. But, it is a gigantic leap to assume that, among all reported alcohol poisoning cases in women, there is secretly a silent majority of spiked drink incidents. There is just no evidence that drink-spiking happens nearly as often as pure alcohol poisoning, or due to other sorts of drug interactions. Pointing to an example where someone had indeed consumed a spiked drink does not erase all of the more numerous times where people suspect their drinks have been spiked, but it turns out not to have been the case.

Besides, for the study in Western Australia, the police, hospital staff, and people going to the hospital were all actively kept on guard to report suspected drink-spiking, precisely so that they could conduct a study on the phenomenon. You were not dealing with a hospital that was disinclined to report drink-spiking. It would be nonsensical to claim that the hospital suspected that it was all a myth, when they had been identifying and referring dozens of suspected cases. If anything, even had that hospital been disinclined to report drink-spiking, the hit rate should have increased, as only the most obvious cases would be passed along for testing.

Besides again, the OP in that question did indeed suspect drink-spiking - hence the reason why the question existed.

(As I already mentioned, I am also of the suspicion that it varies widely by scene - I expect that some studies that concluded "no drugging is happening here", come to that conclusion precisely because no drugging was happening there. But there are actual drug assaults taking place around my scene, it's not uncommon.

This is no doubt a huge factor in the disconnect between the numbers and people's experiences. These incidents undoubtedly cluster by geography, by venue, by culture/subculture, etc. I don't doubt that something is going on where you are, but that is not the same thing as the rate at which these things occur elsewhere.

I use my seat belt, even though (averaging every day of my life) it could be claimed I am statistically in less danger of needing it than I am of being drugged. If someone told me I shouldn't concern myself so much with the seat belt, just avoid using the phone while driving because that's a much greater danger, I wouldn't be turning to them for further safety advice.

This is a non sequitur, and it is also strangely illustrative of the errors people make when talking about risks. Not only are car accidents extremely common, much more common than even rape itself*, but nobody is telling people to not watch their drinks.

Instead, people are being reminded that drink-spiking is not as common as most people think, and that other forms of dangerous inebriation are much more common than most people think. "At least with alcohol you know what you're getting" is a pernicious and extremely dangerous myth, and it frequently rides along with the myth that spiked drinks are the most common form of drug-related sexual assault. Yes, drink-spiking happens, but many more mundane things are even more dangerous.

*Google-fu statistics: there were about 90,000 rapes reported in the US in 2009, which is of course a great deal, but there were 10.8 million car accidents reported in the US in that same year, with about 70,000 related deaths in that same year and each year producing 3.4 million car accident-related injuries a year.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:27 AM on July 31, 2013


I'm still trying to figure out who you believe should have been tested who was not tested, anonymisc. They were testing people who came in presenting with acute intoxication. Which seems to be exactly what you said they should have been doing... and yet somehow they were ignoring a whole class of unspecified people.

Oh, a person who is not tested isn't a false negative; they're just someone not in the study. A false negative is someone whose test for having been spiked came back negative but actually had been spiked. Which, like false positives, can happen in almost any study but have been minimized by making sure the time frame for the test is less than the 12 hours you yourself specified.

I'm just completely lost as to what precisely the problem with the study is supposed to be. Apart from "the results are not what I want them to have been" I mean.
posted by Justinian at 11:25 AM on July 31, 2013


what's also important to remember here is that most drug users like to keep their drugs for themselves and their friends, not waste them on other people who they don't know. we have this idea that drug users are evil rapist scum, just waiting to drug people and control them. but they aren't: most people take some type of drug at some point in life and most do it voluntarily, whether they are male or female.

I would argue that the proportion of people in the world who wait around at bars looking for people to drug and rape is tiny. This means that the spiked drink phenomenon must be rare. Yes, it happens, just like serial killing happens, but we don't warn people to watch for serial killers every time they go out of the house.

the number of men who will take advantage of women, intoxicated or otherwise, is far, far too high— but the number who will premeditatedly drug them in order to rape them is thankfully much, much lower. you basically have to be a sociopath.
posted by Maias at 5:22 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


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