Drug-facilitated sexual assault ('date rape')

South Med J. 2000 Jun;93(6):558-61.


In the past few years, drug-facilitated sexual assaults have received widespread media coverage. In addition to alcohol, the most frequently used date-rape drug, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), a fast-acting benzodiazepine, and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and its congeners are among the most popular drugs used for this purpose. The latter drug is easily procured at some gymnasiums, popular bars, discos, and rave clubs, as well as over the Internet. Perpetrators choose these drugs because they act rapidly, produce disinhibition and relaxation of voluntary muscles, and cause the victim to have lasting anterograde amnesia for events that occur under the influence of the drug. Alcoholic beverages potentiate the drug effects. We review several date-rape drugs, provide information on laboratory testing for them, and offer guidelines for preventing drug-facilitated sexual assault.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Flunitrazepam / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Rape* / prevention & control
  • Sodium Oxybate / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Sodium Oxybate
  • 4-Butyrolactone