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INTRODUCTION A date rape drug is described as any drug that changes the awareness or responsiveness of a person in such a manner that causes difficulty in self-defence or clear

January 28, 2019 0 Comment

INTRODUCTION
A date rape drug is described as any drug that changes the awareness or responsiveness of a person in such a manner that causes difficulty in self-defence or clear, cognitive decision-making. Such drugs often lead to sexual assaults where a person is not able to resist or decline unwanted sexual activity and are classed as Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults (DFSAs). According to Medical News Today, at least 1 in 4 women in America (i.e. approximately 25%) have been victims of DFSAs and most times the assault occurred by someone they know or are familiar with . Some effects of these drugs are memory loss, confusion, dizziness, slow heart rate and even death.
The most common date rape drugs (also called “club drugs”) are Rohypnol, Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB), Ketamine, Benzodiazepines and Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) . Furthermore, GBL is a precursor to the GHB drug which is activated in the presence of a peripheral lactone and is converted to GHB.

Effects of some Date Rape Drugs
Rohypnol
• White or light green pill
• Odorless and Colourless
• Starts taking effect from 20 – 30 mins
• Can last up to 8 – 12 hours
• Has a paralyzing effect (i.e. loss of muscle control)
• Visual Disturbances

GHB3
• Effects begin 15 – 60 mins after use
• Can last up to 6 hours
• Can be detected in urine up to 12 hours after ingestion
• Drowsiness
• Forgetfulness

Ketamine2
• Causes a feeling of relaxation
• Acts almost instantaneously
• Comes as a white powder that may alter the taste of the beverage
• Can cause seizures, difficulty seeing and memory loss

RATIONALE
In this study, I plan to carry out a systematic study on date-rape drugs used in drug facilitated sexual assaults against individuals where one can detect their presence by performing a simple task to ensure safety. The basis for such studies is that more often than less, individuals (particularly females) are found in situations where they involuntarily ingest drugs via beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), which puts them at risk for sexual assaults. To avoid such situations, preventative measures must be put in place. In so doing, the aim is to develop a drug test kit that aids in the identification of certain date-rape drugs, particularly GHB, as well as to manufacture it in such a way where it is not easily recognized.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Over the past few years, people have become wearier of the date rape drugs which are commonly used in drug facilitated sexual assaults (DFSA) and how they affect our safety. Most times, persons are unaware of the presence of these drugs in substances such as alcoholic beverages because they have no visible characteristics which often leads to persons being drugged and their cognitive faculties impaired.
One study conducted by Dale W. Quest, in the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, showed the utilization of a date-rape drug detection device using hands-on/field applications as well as laboratory analysis. This field device allowed participants to extract a small portion of their beverage and place it into a coded vial which contained actual drug standards or pure water, later to which the results were recorded on a card with sticker containing a key or a code which relates to that specific vial of drink sample. The device was made to focus on two common date-rape drugs namely, GHB and ketamine.
The study showed that the laboratory experiments displayed more reliability over those conducted on the field. In order to determine whether or not drinks were spiked, the tests were conducted on special coasters developed by Drink Safe Technologies of Tallahassee, Fl. These coasters contained four test spots where a certain volume of liquid can be placed, and a colour change can be detected. A positive test for GHB shows a colour change from green to blue while for ketamine shows from pink to blue.
The four test spots allowed for repeatability in GHB and ketamine determinations.
While this being positive, there were quite a few limitations found in using the field testing kits such as lack of familiarity in pinpointing a positive or negative reaction in which can be deemed dangerous due to unreliability. Also, the volume of spotted test area impacts the time required for drying which in turn affects the time required for a complete reaction to occur. In addition, the field results showed a major cause for concern because in some instances, the paired test of the same drink showed no colour changes. However, when those same samples were lab tested, the reaction was confirmed but not long-lasting .
Meyers and Almirall from the Florida International University, carried out similar studies in earlier years (2004) to those of Quest (2007). Though the inferences made were the same, Meyers et al noted that coasters were most likely to be read in a nightclub where they were placed under fluorescent lights and left to dry at room temperature. Samples that showed no colour change were most likely caused by visual hindrance which leads to incorrect interpretations of test results .
Research conducted in Singapore by Zhai et al, showed the development of the first fluorescent sensor for the illegal date rape drug GBL. It was given the name ‘Green Date’ and the connection between the drug and the sensor was studied to prevent DFSAs from occurring.
The method of testing was found to be quite simple but effective and was used to test several beverages that were representative of various types of drinks, (i.e. alcoholic, non-alcoholic, coloured and colourless). In extraction, dichloromethane was the solvent employed to remove interfering species, such as coloured components and ethanol, as well as allowed the facilitation of increasing the concentration of GBL in the drink sample. The separated organic layer is what was utilized to introduce water containing Green Date.
While dichloromethane extracts most interfering species, some may remain which leaves the chance of those species being concentrated up to 10x its original concentration.
Detection of GBL was as straightforward as pointing a green laser which passes through samples that contained no GBL with Green Date while an orange fluorescence is turned on in samples containing GBL with Green Date.
In addition, GBL is found to be more lipophilic than GHB. Because of this property, a phenomenon known as static quenching occurs where polar solvents cause the hydrophobic fluorescent molecules to clump together, to reduce the physical contact with water molecules. Static quenching hence lessens fluorescence in aqueous samples .
Many other concepts of technologies in the detection of date-rape drugs are being developed but has not yet come to its full potential. These gadgets are made simple enough to discreetly test drinks without the knowledge of the perpetrator.
One such example that falls under wearable technology, is a Nail Polish made to distinguish the presence of drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB by a colour change. The person simply has to stir their drink with a finger and wait a few minutes to observe any change in appearance of the nail polish. The downside to this is that the drug may come into contact with the individual’s skin and food and hence is not advised .
Another example of wearable tech is a device that’s disguisable as a key chain or even a prop for your phone and has a sensor that detects if your drink was spiked or not. It works by simply placing a drop of your drink on the sample port of the device. One line signifies that one or more of the drugs are present while two line signifies that your drink is in the clear .
In doing such research, it is evident that new and improved methods of date-rape drug detection should be introduced and developed. Seeing the pros and cons of each method of testing, a modern way of GHB detection would use a test kit which includes a UV marker, a stir-stick and a specially made glasses called the UV-BG. For this to work, an invisible ink which only reacts with the components/groups found on GHB causing the formation of a product that cannot be seen by the naked eye. This is where the UV-BG glasses comes into play and the invisible ink or substance can be made visible when in use. The stir-stick is either dipped into the ink or the ink is pasted unto the stir-stick and now this stick can be used to stir your drink. When this is done, the ink is made visible under the UV-GB only if it detects the presence of the drug.