How Safe Is YOUR Drink?

Sarah Tancredi

Have you or any of your friends ever had your drink spiked? Talk to any City College student and the chance is they will answer “yes” to this question.

Drink-spiking is the addition of mind-altering substances to another person’s drink. Although the victim can be male or female, victims are more commonly female.

There are two common date rape drugs abused by teenagers and young adults at nightclubs and raves.

Rohypnol, known as “roofies” are manufactured in pill form and dissolves into liquid. Gamma hydaroxybutyric acid or GHB, is an odorless, colorless liquid.

“Usually the perpetrator will have a vial containing these drugs,” said Jennifer Baker, City College health education program advisor. “This can happen at a household party or it could be done in a bar.”

The effects of the drugs can be felt 15 to 30 minutes after consumption. A victim will begin to feel dizzy, tired, and overly drunk in proportion to how much they drank.

The next day when they wake up they may feel disoriented and experience memory blanks about the night before.

“If you think your drink has been spiked you should tell someone you trust as soon as possible,” said Baker.

“Don’t isolate yourself because the longer you wait the worse the effects become.”

If one thinks that their drink has been spiked, they should be taken to a hospital as quickly as possible for a urine test to screen for the presence of sedating substances.

Time is crucial because the drugs will leave the body 12 to 24 hours after they are ingested. The victim will also need to determine whether or not they will file a police report.

Santa Barbara Police Department Lieutenant, Paul McCaffrey, regulates the Santa Barbara downtown bar scene.

He believes there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the topic of drink-spiking.

“There is not much proof that drinks have been spiked,” said McCaffrey.

“But there is a lot more evidence that people drink more than they say.”

McCaffrey said that bars on State Street are very crowded and the police are not catching people spiking drinks. This leads him to believe that it’s not happening.

The police department, sheriffs department, and Isla Vista foot patrol don’t have any records about drink-spiking because there is no way to gather evidence.

There are reports of women saying their drinks were spiked, but the reports are made hours too late to determine if it’s true.

According to McCaffrey, these are complaints from women who do not want to take responsibility for their own actions – consuming too much alcohol. It’s not that their drink had been spiked.

“Alcohol is often a big important factor,” he said. “We do know that people get involved in regrettable actions.”

McCaffrey said different people have different degrees of accepting Responsibility and responsibility starts before one even goes out to drink.

Alena Donovan, Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center community education coordinator, provides information about precautions to reduce the risk of being drugged.

“Decide how much to drink before going out,” she said.

“Don’t leave beverages unattended, be alert to the behavior of friends and keep an eye on their drinks.”

Because it’s hard to prove your drink was spiked after the fact, take precautions to keep you and your friends safe.

Sergeant Bernabe Gaona, supervisor for the nightlife enforcement team of the Santa Barbara Police Department, works with club owners and bouncers to keep customers safe, check for fake ID’s and any other violations.

“Take precautions when you go out,” Gaona said. “Be responsible not to drink to the point of where you’re oblivious.”