Teaching Teens About Date Rape Drugs and Staying Safe

Michele Borba October 11, 2010 Comments Off on Teaching Teens About Date Rape Drugs and Staying Safe

News at Central Washington University is a parent wake-up call: we have  skills to teach. Parenting advice to help you talk to your teen about date rape drugs and what you can help them learn to keep them safer and savvier

Scene: Fifty unconscious and semi-conscious party goers. Vomit everywhere. One man engaging in sexual acts with a semiconscious female. Ambulances transporting 11 unconscious females (who are mostly college freshmen) and one unconscious male to the hospital.

Date and place: October 9, 2010 in a small central town called Roslyn, Washington

Participants: Students aged 18 to 21 from Central Washington University

Apparent cause: Vodka laced with the date rape, Rohypnol, commonly known as “roofies”

Outcome: Students all released from hospital; police now investigating for potential date rape

Incidental factoid: Not one partygoer dialed 911

So have you had that “date rape drug” talk? If not, why not? After all, if you’ve talked to your teen about drinking and sex, then it’s time to take that conversation up a notch adding “spiked drinks” and “date rape drugs” to your chat. Let’s be realistic: the party scene is alive and well, and drinking is part of that scene. Date rape drugs could be part of that picture. Adolescents must know the straight facts so they can be prepared, and they must know how to respond in those “just in case” scenarios. And there’s no time better than tonight after the horrific incident in Washington. I just came from reporting this news on CNN and what parents should do to have that chat. Here are a few points to discuss.

GIVE THE STRAIGHT FACTS

Connect with a real issue. Our “lectures” about what happened to us in the “old days” just don’t connect with adolescents, but actual events about real teens do. Use the news story as your talk opener: “Did you hear about the college party and what happened…”  Or try this approach: “What are your friends saying about the college party where the police think date rape drugs were involved…?”  Listen to your teen, and add then slowly slip in the real facts.

Provide solid facts about date rape drugs. Chances are your teen heard the story, but may not have the facts straight. In any case, be your teen’s filter and give him the right information. A few pointers:  Rohypohol (or “Roofies”) is the most common date rape drug. Others drugs include Roofies, Rophies, and Lunch Money and GHB (Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid Ecstasy, Energy Drink, etc.) Roofies are easy to get, inexpensive (under $5.00), look harmless like an aspirin, and are easy for someone to put it into a drink (called “drink spiking”). The drug also dissolves quickly, is tasteless and odorless. The newer version contains a blue dye so if it is in your drink it will fizzle a bit, and float on top and turn blue. You might go online with your teen and find any article on date rape drugs. You’ll also find photos of different date rape drugs to show your teen so he can see what they look like (and your credibility just may go up a bit).

Give warning signs and stress why it’s dangerous. Tell your teen that the drug works like a powerful sleeping pill: within a short time of taking it you may start to feel dizzy, drowsy, confused, nauseous, lose your coordination and judgment until you become unconscious. Every person reacts differently. The drugs mixed with alcohol or other drugs can be a lethal combination and stop respiration. The drug also causes amnesia so when you wake up you have no memory of what happened—which is exactly why it’s called a “Date Rape Pill.” Guys can take sexual advantage of you when you’re unconscious, which is another reason why you need to be cautious. In fact, corporations are teaching business women who travel frequently to learn these signs as a precaution, so this isn’t just a teen problem.

Step 2: TEACH PARTY-SCENE PRECAUTIONS

Party Drinking Safety is another crucial set of Safety Smarts skills adolescents must learn. So don’t just give the facts, teach your teen what to do to stay safe. Stress that though date rape drugs are hard to detect, there are a few easy ways to avoid them if you take a few precautions. Here are a few key party-scene rules to teach.

Be safe. Before going to any party, always tell a friend the address of where you are going. Know who is giving that party. Is it someone you trust? Go with a friend so you can look out for one another. If there is drinking involved, take a pledge that one of you will remain the sober designated driver or just sober. If others crash the party, it may be wise to leave.

Watch your drink. Don’t drink any beverage you don’t open yourself, and never drink from an open container which can be easily spiked. Always watch your drink being made or make it yourself. Keep your drink in your hands at all times and use the rule: “If you put it down, you don’t pick it up.” Stress that this is the one time you don’t want your kid to share: Don’t pass your drink or take a drink from someone else.

Be aware of your surroundings. Watch how you feel. Tune into your surroundings. Though most date rape drugs are odorless and tasteless, some do have a fizz and a slightly bitter taste. So if a drink tastes funny, smells or tastes odd, don’t drink it. Period.

Learn how to be savvy at a party. Peer pressure is fierce, so help your adolescent learn a few peer pressure strategies to use at a party like “How to gracefully lose a drink,” “How to pretend to take a sip,” or the fine art of “How to do a gentle, ‘unintentional’ spill.”

Step 3: STRESS HOW TO TAKE ACTION

Emphasize that the effect of a spiked drink can take hold in seconds, so act quickly. Sometimes you may not have those seconds. So review what to do if your child ever thinks a drink has been spiked.

Act quickly. If you feel funny, nauseous, do not wait to get help. You have mere seconds. Call and text a friend close by, call a taxi, go to apartment manager, or dial 911. Always leave your address with dispatcher or friend you are calling so in case you pass out they can find you.

Be a friend. Do not leave a friend in trouble. Call 911 for help.

While you’re at it, please add that respect isn’t just about opening doors for other: it means getting permission before trying to do something-anything-with a date. And add once again that “NO always means NO.”

Now promise me you’ll have that chat.

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert