When I was in college, I loved to cross the border for a few days of dancing and drinking at Papas & Beer in Rosarito, Mexico. This was back in the early 90’s – pre-9/11. Meaning it was relatively hassle-free to get back into the States. And there was always someone willing to drive. Ah, the good ‘ol pre-9/11 days…
I’d usually go with a group of coed friends. One of the things I remember from those carefree days was that guys always offered to buy us drinks. And we young ladies always accepted their “generous” tactics…err, I mean, offers.
I’ve never been a big drinker. I’m not exactly an imposing person in terms of size so two drinks went a long way (still does). As a lightweight, I was always tempted to pull a George Carlin and decline the offer but ask for the money instead. In retrospect, it would have been a smarter move on my part because just a few years later, a scary new trend involving males surreptitiously slipping a drug called Rohypnol into the drinks of their dates hit the news.
Thankfully, I was not a victim of “the date rape drug” (at least to my knowledge.) But I so easily could have been. The drug is an extremely potent tranquilizer that incapacitates you after thirty minutes or so. According to Medicine.net, you easily become weak and confused and, in many cases, pass out. It’s odorless, colorless, and taste-free, rendering it the perfect elixir for those with an appetite for sexual assault. Nice, huh?
Another popular drug in the same class (called benzodiazepines) that became “hip” at rave parties is called GHB – short for gamma hydroxybutyric acid – also known as liquid ecstasy. I dated a man in the late 90’s whose best friend – a medical doctor – would never go to a rave without enough GHB for everyone. That’s how prevalent it was.
And then there are those who died of an overdose because the idiot who gave it to them just wants to liven up a party. And is clearly not a pharmacist.
Here’s what’s scariest to me about drugs like Rhohypnol or GHB. Our 7-year and growing investment in Krav Maga training means my daughter has a good chance of successfully defending herself against knives and guns, but she has zero chance of defending herself if she’s got no control over her mind or body.
A few years ago, before all the magic of puberty hit, I started telling Margaret about the need to keep her eye on her drink. We started with her sippy cup. But that didn’t really work. She’d leave it everywhere, unattended. So, I abandoned that plan and waited until she was able to actually drink from cup without spilling all over herself.
Now that she’s a teenager, my husband and I have begun to create awareness about this type of assault. She’s only 13 and does not go anywhere that adults aren’t present, so she’s not drinking alcohol (and we’ve secretly strapped micro web cams to her face so we’re positive – shhhhhh…). Still, her Orange Fanta at the school dance is just as vulnerable as a Melon Ball at Bar 20 on Sunset. We talk to her about staying vigilant when she’s at parties or at friend’s houses. Stuff like “Watch your drink at all times” and “Never accept a drink from anyone if you didn’t watch them pour it” and “Tell someone you trust immediately if you feel suddenly tipsy” and even “Buy drinks in bottles and don’t drink it if it’s been opened first.” The usual.
In addition to adopting these best practices, innovative technology is helping young lasses (and lads too) prevent date-rape-drug predicaments. A junior at George Washington University has created a product that looks like a bar napkin but can test to see if someone has tampered with your drink. Other products that have preceded this invention are coasters, nail polish, straws and more.
People always say “It’s a crazy world we live in,” as if it just got crazy. I call BS on that. The world’s always been crazy – and depraved. Anyone who’s read about Nero knows this. We just have more visibility into it these days.
As parents we have to do our jobs. We can’t afford to outsource it. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope for the best.
Start here: If you have a daughter (or a son, or a child of another gender), pour your daughter a drink and see if she watches. If she doesn’t and she drinks it, you’ve got some teaching to do. Because practice makes perfect.