Understatement of the century: date rape is not cool. Neither committing it, nor being a victim of it, should ever ever happen. As such, I want to promote awareness of something that could potentially be used as a date rape drug, but that’s also found in practically everyone’s medicine cabinet.
I’ve been conflicted for a long time about blogging about this, because I don’t want to enable those who seek to do bad things, but in the end I’ve decided that knowledge is power. And if you know about a particular danger, you can probably do more to protect yourself from it.
Also, I’m going to talk about these straws that scientists are working on, that might just prevent date rapes. Ahhh, now there’s a refreshing idea!
I won’t beat around the bush; the potential date rape drug that most people already own is…Visine. You know, the eye drops that clear up bloodshot eyes. To be fair, Clear Eyes
eye drops have just as much potential as a date rape drug. Plus they have this awesomely terrible commercial with Ben Stein:
The reason these eye drops, and, I presume, all the other brands of eye drops out there, have potential applications as date rape drugs is because they all contain tetrahydrozoline:
Innocent enough looking little thing, right? But, it’s not that innocent. Well, not when it’s in the wrong hands of somebody with bad intentions. You see, there was a very small publication that came from the Kentucky Regional Poison Center in 2007. The publication describes a guy who, in 2003, had been raping a woman and four children, all relatives of his, I believe, by adding Visine to their drinks.
While the tetrahydrozoline in eye drops will shrink the blood vessels in your eyes and make them less apparent, tetrahydrozoline ingested becomes a very strong high blood pressure medicine. When your blood pressure gets lowered too far, you can become drowsy, with a slowed heart rate and impaired breathing, and you can even enter a coma. Essentially, ingesting Visine or other eye drops can make someone an easier target for date rape. It is my sincere hope that by sharing this information I am NOT enabling those who would do harm, but empowering people to avoid potential dangers.
Speaking of avoiding dangers, I love drinking things through straws, and scientists in Israel are now working on straws that can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks! This is a truly great invention. It would be inexpensive (about $5), and all you’d have to do is dip it in your drink to instantly know whether date rape drugs had been added to it. Classic date rape drugs like ketamine and GHB are detected with, so far, 100% accuracy and no false positives, and when these chemicals interact with the testing solution in the straw, the drink turns cloudy and a little red light turns on in the straw. The developers are considering adding Rohypnol (aka “roofies”) to the list of detectable compounds in their straw. And even though using Visine as a date rape drug is rare in comparison to these other drugs I’ve just mentioned, might I suggest these scientists add tetrahydrozoline to the drug detection list as well?
If these straws really catch on (and why wouldn’t they?!), there should definitely be a push to stock them at every seedy bar and questionable frat party in the world. Just sayin’.
Spiller HA, Rogers J, & Sawyer TS (2007). Drug facilitated sexual assault using an over-the-counter ocular solution containing tetrahydrozoline (Visine). Legal medicine (Tokyo, Japan), 9 (4), 192-5 PMID: 17320456