The MIT Police issued an advisory on Oct. 30 concerning recent reports of the use of Rohypnol, the "date-rape drug," in the Boston area. A recent article in the Harvard Crimson said two Harvard students had been treated for Rohypnol poisoning after attending off-campus parties.
Rohypnol is frequently used as a date-rape drug because it induces unconsciousness within minutes. It is known by slang terms such as "roofies" and "the forget pill," among others. Some estimates place cases of Rohypnol-induced sexual assault in the United States at 5,000 this year alone.
When placed in a drink, the drug dissolves quickly. It takes effect within minutes, causing victims to lose conciousness and memory for eight hours or more. Other common symptoms are dizziness, confusion, decreased blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems and urine retention.
Rohypnol remains detectable in the bloodstream for only about 12 hours, so a toxicology test soon after consumption is necessary for detection.
The MIT Police advise members of the MIT community, particularly women students, not to leave drinks unattended; not to accept a beverage from someone they do not know well, even at a campus function, unless the drink is sealed in a can or bottle; and not to drink party punches reserved for women guests.
Anyone aware of the use of this drug or who thinks she may have been drugged should call the MIT Police immediately (dial 100 on campus) and seek medical help.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 5, 2003.