Boston Police issue alert after rise in reports of date-rape drugs

A mixed drink in a glass.

*Trigger warning: This article includes mentions of rape and other forms of sexual assault*

In the United States, close to 11 million women have been raped while under the influence, ranging from being drunk, high or drugged by the assailant. Three of the most common “date-rape drugs” are Rohypnol, commonly known as roofies; gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, a sedative; and ketamine, which the Boston Police Department are reporting a rise of in recent weeks in the city.

After receiving multiple reports in the Downtown Boston area of drinks being spiked with date-rape drugs, the Boston Police have warned the patrons of Boston’s bars and clubs to increase cautiousness whilst going out based on the uptick in crimes of this nature. They also disclosed that none of the reports have resulted in rape to their knowledge.

The alert was issued on Dec. 1 referencing the “disorientation, confusion, temporary paralysis or unconsciousness along with a host of other symptoms, leaving the potential victim vulnerable to the intentions of the suspect” that date-rape drugs can induce. 

The BPD also urges increased caution with strangers and taking stock of any uncharacteristic behaviors from your acquaintances or friends. The most secure system is the "buddy system": don’t go out alone, and don’t leave alone. 

Multiple sources have released steps and safety precautions which should be enacted when going out, such as:

  • Get your drinks directly from bartenders or waiters; accepting drinks from strangers is a risk.

  • Keep an eye on your drinks at all times or have someone you trust watch over your drinks as you go to the bathroom.

  • Cover your drink when you’re not looking at it or paying attention.

  • There are even test trips that can be bought that change color when drugs are detected. (link to purchase drink testers: https://www.gov1.com/preventing-sexual-assault-and-intimate-partner-violence/articles/5-gadgets-that-alert-drinkers-to-date-rape-drugs-n2AXeJb4rn45lMFG/ )

  • If you or anyone you know begins displaying signs of having been drugged seek help immediately.

  • If you see individuals “who appear to be in distress, wandering alone late at night or dressed unsuitably for the weather…contact police immediately.” 

As Duane de Four, Interim Executive Director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, reported to the Boston Herald:  “A large part of the responsibility for this should fall on the bars and nightclubs. They’re often aware of repeat offenders.” 

The Licensing Board for the City of Boston is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of customers and patrons of all licensed Boston businesses. 

To address concerns such as these, the Licensing Board released an advisory on responsible practices and the obligations nightclubs and bars are to follow. They also included guidance on potential indicators of drugged drinks such as a foggy appearance, sinking ice cubes or excessive bubbles.

The rise in Boston’s reports of date-rape drugs follows the nation-wide uptick in reports that have been unfolding the past few weeks. 

If you believe you may have been drugged or raped, seek medical attention immediately and inform the police, or have someone you trust bring you to the emergency room.

For more information about date-rape drugs, visit: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/date-rape-drugs

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