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Date Rape Drug Test Strips Don't Make the Grade

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Date rape drugs are colorless, tasteless and odorless, that's what makes them so effective. The victim never knows its coming. Now, a Florida company is advertising the Date Rape Drug Test Strip.

They claim the strips can detect the presence of ketamine and GHB in a drink. All you have to do is put a drop of your drink on the credit card sized test strip and wait for it to dry. If the indicator turns blue, you might have a date rape drug in your drink.

We asked Stevens Point Veterinarian, Dr. Tom Kelble, to help us test the test. Joining us on our testing panel was Sgt. Gary Koehmstedt of the Portage County Sheriff's Department, and Sharon Jakusz, the director of intervention at the sexual assault victims services.

Dr. Kelble provided the ketamine, which is a drug used to sedate an animal for surgery. Dr. Kelble has been the victim of recent break-ins by criminals looking for ketamine.
We tested for the presence of ketamine in red wine, a clear vodka drink, beer and a blue drink. The amount of ketamine in each drink varied from a third of a CC (cubic centimeter) to a full bottle of ketamine (10 CC's).

After we spiked the drinks, our panel stirred, dabbed the test strip and waited for the results. After 12 drinks, $36 in test strips, and two bottles of ketamine, the results weren't encouraging. The only positive result was when we applied ketamine directly to the test strip.

In every case where we applied stirred liquid from a spiked drink to the test strip, the indicator failed to turn blue. Our panel was disturbed by the results.

"There's a lot of false security, we tested drinks with ketamine and there's no result of positive,” said Sgt. Koehmstedt.

"This is worthless," said Dr. Kelble. "They could put small amounts of ketamine in over and evening and it wouldn't show up positive, then they'd be drugged."

Jakusz says the test strips would be a bad idea even if they did work.

"What is one's ability to evaluate the strips after a couple drinks in a not so well lit bar, even if it did work?"

The panel had other concerns with the strips, including the fact they took a couple minutes to turn blue, and the $1.25 per test strip cost. In the end, the group agreed the best use of the test strip was to put in on top of your drink, so no one could put a date rape drug in it to begin with.

wsaw.com Extended Web Coverage

What Kinds of "Date Rape" Drugs Are Out There?

Rohypnol

  • It is a white tablet that is single or double scored on one side.
  • "Roche" or "RH" are imprinted on the tablet, and "I" or "Z" is circled on either side.
  • It is often found or obtained in its original blister-wrap packaging.
  • Rohyptnol is a pharmaceutical that is used in 80 countries to treat severe sleep disorders.
  • It is also known as "roofies", "roaches", "la Rocha", and the "forget pill".

gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

  • It is often "homemade" or made in clandestine laboratories.
  • It is a liquid that is often carried in water bottles or in other containers.
  • GHB is a central nervous system depressant found naturally in the brain and the other tissues.
  • It is also known as "liquid ecstasy", "liquid X", and “grievous bodily harm."

Ketamine

  • It comes as a liquid in its pharmaceutical form.
  • It is also found as a white pill or powder.
  • Ketamine is a general anesthetic used extensively in veterinary medicine.
  • It is also known as "special K".

Common Symptoms

  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired or loss of memory
  • Lack of muscle coordination

How to Protect Yourself

  • Do not leave drinks unattended.
  • Do not accept open containers at parties.
  • Accept drinks only from bartenders or servers and watch them open it.
  • If you feel ill, get help immediately.

Source: http://www.hawc.org/topics/teen/daterapedrugs.html (Houston Area Women's Center Web Site)


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