What Are Date Rape Drugs?

Date rape drugs are drugs that are sometimes used to assist an act of sexual violence. Because of the effects of these drugs, victims may be physically helpless, unable to consent to sexual activity, and can't remember what happened. The drugs often have no color, smell, or taste and are easily added to flavored drinks without the victim's knowledge. Below are three commonly used date rape drugs:

  • GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid)
  • Rohypnol (flunitrazepam)
  • Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride)

Although we use the term "date rape," most experts prefer the term "drug-facilitated sexual assault." These drugs have been used to help people commit other crimes, like robbery and physical assault, and have been used on both men and women.

What Do Date Rape Drugs Look Like?

GHB has a few forms: a liquid with no odor or color, white powder, and pill.  Rohypnol is a pill and dissolves in liquids. New pills turn blue when added to liquids. However, the old pills, with no color, are still available.  Ketamine is a white powder.

What Effects Do These Drugs Have on the Body?

Date rape drugs can affect you quickly. The length of time that the effects last varies. It depends on how much of the drug is taken and if the drug is mixed with other substances, like alcohol. Alcohol can worsen the drug's effects and can cause more health problems. Also, one drug — GHB — can be made by people in their homes, so you don't know what's in it.


GHB can have the following symptoms:

  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Problems seeing
  • Unconsciousness (black out)
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Problems breathing
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Slow heart rate
  • Dream-like feeling
  • Coma
  • Death


Rohypnol can cause these problems:

  • Memory Loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle relaxation or loss of muscle control
  • Drunk feeling
  • Nausea
  • Problems talking
  • Difficulty with motor movements
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Stomach problems


Ketamine can cause these problems:

  • Hallucinations
  • Lost sense of time and identity
  • Distorted perceptions of sight and sound
  • Feeling out of control
  • Impaired motor function
  • Problems breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Out of body experiences
  • Memory loss
  • Dream-like feeling
  • Numbness
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Slurred speech

Is Alcohol a Date Rape Drug?

While GHB, rohypnol, and ketamine are considered "date rape drugs," there are other drugs that affect judgment and behavior, and can put a person at risk for unwanted or risky sexual activity. Alcohol is one of those drugs. When a person is drinking alcohol:

  • It's harder to think clearly and evaluate a potentially dangerous situation.
  • It's harder to resist sexual or physical assault.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can also cause black-outs and memory loss.

But remember: even if a victim of sexual assault drank alcohol, they are NOT at fault for being assaulted.

Are These Drugs Legal in the United States?

Some are legal when prescribed to an individual for health problems by a licensed health care provider.

How Can I Protect Myself from Being a Victim?

  • Don't accept drinks from other people.
  • Open containers yourself.
  • Keep your drink with you at all times, even when you go to the bathroom.
  • Don't share drinks.
  • Don't drink from punch bowls or other large, common, open containers. They may already have drugs in them.
  • Don't drink anything that tastes or smells strange. Sometimes GHB tastes salty.
  • Have a non-drinking friend with you to make sure nothing happens.

If You Think You Have Been Drugged and/or Sexually Assaulted:

  • Report the situation to a campus official immediately. You can be taken to the hospital for tests to preserve evidence and identify any drugs currently in your system.
  • The drugs leave your system quickly. Rohypnol leaves your body 72 hours after you take it, GHB leaves the body in 12 hours.
  • Try not to urinate before getting help.
  • Don't douche, bathe, or change clothes before getting help in order to preserve evidence.
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional and the College has resources to assist you during this time.

Additional Resources

Drug Enforcement Administration
Phone: 202-307-1000
Internet Address:  https://www.dea.gov/index.shtml

Food and Drug Administration, OPHS, HHS
Phone: 800-332-4010 Hotline or 888-463-6332  Consumer Information
Internet Address:  http://www.fda.gov
National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, HHS
Phone: 800-662-4357 Hotline or 800-662-9832 Spanish Language Hotline
Internet Address:  http://www.drugabuse.gov

Office of National Drug Control Policy
Phone: 800-666-3332  Information Clearinghouse
Internet Address:  http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/index.html