Topic Overview

Drugs that have been used in date rapes are gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), and ketamine. These drugs inhibit a person's ability to resist sexual assault.

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant. GHB is a clear, odourless liquid that looks like water and so can be added to a beverage without the person knowing it. It may also be used in the form of a white powder. GHB is also known as liquid ecstasy, soap, Easy Lay, and Georgia Home Boy.

Until 1992, GHB was sold in health food stores in products to build muscle tissue and to reduce body fat. Today, it can be obtained over the Internet and often is available at all-night dances, raves, and nightclubs.

At low doses, the drug relaxes the person. The person feels intoxicated, has more energy, feels happy, and is talkative. Other effects include:

  • Feeling affectionate and playful.
  • Mild loss of inhibition.
  • Increased sensuality.
  • Enhanced sexual feelings.

GHB can cause unwanted side effects, such as headache, drowsiness, dizziness, and vomiting. It can lead to difficulty breathing, being conscious but unable to move, and loss of consciousness—especially when it is combined with alcohol or other drugs. GHB has been involved in overdoses, date rapes, and death.

This drug does not stay in a person's system very long and is not easily detected with drug screening tests (toxicology tests).


Rohypnol, a trade name for flunitrazepam, is a central nervous system depressant. It is similar to diazepam (such as Valium) but about 10 times more potent. It is commonly called rophies, roofies, roach, or rope. It is a tasteless, odourless tablet that can be crushed and dissolved in liquid. It has been used in date rapes, because it can be slipped into a person's drink without it being detected. One small tablet can produce effects for 8 to 12 hours.

Rohypnol is sometimes used to enhance the high of heroin or to ease the negative effects of a crack or cocaine binge. When Rohypnol is mixed with alcohol, its effects cause a person to not resist sexual assault. It can produce a form of amnesia so that the person may not remember what happened while under the influence of the drug. Rohypnol may lead to death when mixed with alcohol or other depressant drugs.


Ketamine is an anesthetic that is used primarily by veterinarians and by doctors who perform surgery on young children. It is also known as Special K, Super K, vitamin K, or simply as K. It is a liquid that can be snorted or injected. Ketamine use has become common in nightclubs, at all-night dances, and at raves. It has been used as a date rape drug.

At low doses, ketamine causes a tingling sensation, a loss of time perception often described as "eternity," and a perceived ability to determine causal connections between things.

At high doses, it distorts the person's perception of his or her body and the surroundings. The person may fall into a dreamlike state (catatonia) in which he or she has a flat facial appearance, an open mouth, a fixed stare with wide pupils, and a rigid posture. The person will withdraw socially, have autistic behaviour, and say bizarre things. This catatonic state is commonly called a K-hole.

At high doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, paranoia, and severe breathing problems. Overdoses pose a serious life-threatening situation and need to be treated in a hospital and most often in an intensive care unit.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015