Interventions to Prevent Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault

Interventions to Prevent Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault

Night out, restaurants, parties, and other social events are a great way to wind down. Whether those social events are with friends, a significant other, or new people that make the time more enjoyable, it’s always important to be alert to your surroundings. Unfortunately, one of the most prominent incidents that go unreported due to social events or gatherings is sexual abuse facilitated by date rape drugs. Nearly “11 million women in the United States have been raped while drunk, drugged, or high” (Office on Women’s Health, 2019). Sexual abuse from date rape drugs can happen to anyone, regardless of gender & race. Fortunately, there are various interventions that can help with preventing an individual from spiking any drink, alcoholic or not, such as SipChip and Drink Safe Technologies Coasters, as well as safety tips all individuals can follow to keep themselves aware & safe. 

 

Undercover Colors: SipChip

Undercover Colors is a company that created a product called SipChip. The company understands the complexity of sexual assault and believes that its product can help. Undercover Colors focuses on ensuring their customers can easily determine whether a drink has been spiked or not. The customer receives 3-10 chips that can test for six common date-rape drugs. In order to determine drink has been tampered with, add a drop of liquid to the test area and wait thirty seconds to three minutes. Two lines mean it’s safe, and one line means it has been drugged. However, individuals interested in using SipChip must continue to be aware of their surroundings as the product cannot “single handedly solve America’s rape problem” (Brueck, 2018). Many researchers see value within the product as SipChip may help people to stay safe and potentially build a habit of regularly using it to ensure their safety.   

 

Drink Safe Technologies: Drink Coasters

Drinksafe technologies developed drug-detecting drink coasters sold to the University of New Mexico. One coaster is $0.85 and is cheaper than most drinks at restaurants and bars. To test the drink, an individual takes a few drops of their drink and places it in the test area, then smears the drop and waits until dry. If the spot turns a darker blue, then there is a chance that the drink has been spiked. In a study conducted by Meyers and Almirall on the effectiveness of these coasters, they found low levels of accuracy. Within the study, the coasters detected the presence of two common drugs associated with drug-facilitated sexual assault, but “there are limiting factors such as the high concentration of the drugs required, hindrance of the reaction due to beverage matrix, and extensive time requirements for analysis” that led to the low levels of accuracy (Meyers and Almirall, 2004). While these coasters may not always be accurate, they still act as an important reminder for people to be aware of what can happen.

 

Additional Safety Tips

An individual does not always need to have a drink coaster or a SipChip to keep themselves safe at parties and social gatherings. There are various safety tips that an individual can follow in order to keep themselves safe in social situations. The biggest preventative tip is to not take drinks from other people. At social gatherings, you can never be fully aware of what a drink contains if you decide to take it from someone you may or may not know. The individual may be offering you a Coke or a Pepsi, but any drink ― alcoholic or not ― can be spiked to make an individual experience dizziness, disorientation, loss of inhibition, and a loss of consciousness, placing them in an unsafe situation.

To be extra cautious, an individual should insist on pouring the drink themselves or watch their drink be made. Ensuring that the drink has not been tampered with can be a huge step towards preventing drug-facilitated sexual assault. However, if you have a drink that smells and/or tastes strange, stop drinking it immediately as it could have been tampered with. Discard any drinks that may smell and/or taste strange and drinks that you have left unattended at any time. 

Following a few safety tips can make a difference towards preventing drug-facilitated sexual assault. Although there aren’t any guarantees in preventing the situation, following such safety tips can ensure that you, as an individual, are keeping yourself aware and safe at all times at social gatherings. Keeping yourself aware & safe is the number one priority around individuals that you may not know. 

Why is This Important to Me?

With the use of technology and safety tips, individuals can be aware of the contents of a drink and can also keep themselves safe from vulnerability. These are just the first steps towards keeping people safe from drug-facilitated sexual assault. Due to the preventative aspects of the products & tips, they can help in reducing the numbers of such assaults throughout the nation, making it a safer environment for all. 

Understanding just the safety tips & preventative measures is just the beginning of understanding drug-facilitated sexual assault. There’s so much more to learn, such as the current statistics, potential signs of a dangerous situation, steps to follow for victims, and more. Fortunately, our goal is to have high school students be more aware on the realities of drug-facilitated sexual assault, so they know what to expect when stepping out into their independent lives. If you are interested in learning more, attend the Health Expo on Saturday, February 26th or stop by the Learning Commons from Monday, February 28th to Friday, March 12th to view our displayed tri-fold poster, containing all sorts of information on drug-facilitated sexual assault. 

 

Support Resources

National Sexual Assault Hotline National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE (4673) 

Chat Online: https://hotline.rainn.org/online

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone and online chat

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone and online chat

 

Resources to Learn More

https://www.undercovercolors.com/ 

https://www.gov1.com/preventing-sexual-assault-and-intimate-partner-violence/articles/5-gadgets-that-alert-drinkers-to-date-rape-drugs-n2AXeJb4rn45lMFG/ 

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/05/date-rape-drug-test-allows-women-to-discreetly-check-for-spiked-drinks.html 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/18/us/date-rape-drug-coasters-new-mexico-trnd/index.html 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15538965/ 

https://www.businessinsider.com/date-rape-drug-testing-kit-for-drinks-undercover-colors-2018-9

https://www.drinksafe.com/shop/