Involvement of drugs in sexual assault

J Reprod Med. 2000 May;45(5):425-30.


Objective: To obtain information about the relationship of alcohol and drug usage in victims of sexual assault, including the newly identified "date rape" drugs gamma hydroxybutyrate and flunitrazepam.

Study design: Analysis of urine samples with gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometry can identify alcohol and numerous other drugs with a high degree of specificity. This service was offered to rape treatment centers throughout the United States in May 1996; urine samples obtained from sexual assault victims suspected of drug use by history or physical examination were sent for testing at the discretion of the examiner.

Results: As of March 1999, a total of 2,003 specimens were analyzed. Nearly two-thirds of the samples contained alcohol and/or drugs; the predominant substances found were alcohol, present in 63%, and marijuana, present in 30%. A substantial subset of the specimens was found to contain other illicit substances, frequently in combination. GHB and flunitrazepam were found in < 3% of the positive samples. Additionally, over the two-year study period, the use of these two drugs appeared to be declining.

Conclusion: These findings support prior data indicating that alcohol, marijuana and/or other drugs are important risk factors in sexual assault. Continued monitoring of drug use by victims of sex crimes is important, and programs that serve victims should modify protocols to reflect this.

MeSH terms

  • Dronabinol / urine
  • Ethanol / urine
  • Flunitrazepam / urine
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / urine
  • Incidence
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Rape*
  • Sodium Oxybate / urine
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / urine


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Ethanol
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Sodium Oxybate
  • Dronabinol