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'Date rape' drug suspected in HR

Hood River City Police suspect that a "date rape" drug has been used at area pubs.

Capt. Kevin Lynch said that suspicion began during recent development of a sexual assault case. Although he would not reveal further details, Lynch said there is a very real possibility that either the drug Rohypnol (Roofies) or Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate (GHB) may have been used locally to lace the drinks of unsuspecting women during the past two years. Both drugs have been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are distributed through the underground market.

Lynch is investigating all available data and has asked women who think they may have been victimized to call his direct line at 387-5255. All calls are confidential and can be made anonymously if preferred.

"We need you to call if you even have a little information or know of other people who reported feeling lethargic or had trouble remembering events after they were out in a social setting," he said.

When combined with alcohol, Lynch said both drugs are odorless, colorless and tasteless. He said they can quickly produce a rapid and dramatic "high," that can impair judgment, motor skills, and bring memory loss or even blackouts.

He said it is imperative that possible victims of these drugs be tested by their doctor or local hospital within 60 hours after a suspected encounter. If victims believe they have been sexually assaulted, they should get a physical examination done as well.

"These drugs produce a 'dreamlike' state for the victim who may not be sure whether her experience was real and, because she doesn't really understand what happened to her, may feel embarrassed and blame herself," said Lynch.

Rohypnol is the brand name of a sleeping pill and sedative prescribed for insomnia in Mexico, South America, Europe and Asia. It belongs to the same medicinal family as Valium, Librium and Xanax. Sedation can occur as soon as 20 minutes after ingestion and the victim can appear to be drunk, display no coordination, have blood-shot eyes and slurred speech. Other adverse effects include visual disturbances, drowsiness, confusion, decreased blood pressure, memory impairment, gastrointestinal disturbances and urinary retention. When mixed with alcohol, Roofies can cause respiratory depression, aspiration or even death.

According to law enforcement officials, GHB is less widely used for date rape but is considered by the FDA to be extremely dangerous because one of its key ingredients is floor stripper. The synthetic product was originally created in the 1980s and purchased over-the-counter in foreign markets by body builders as an anabolic steroid alternative. It is banned in the United States and has side effects that are similar to Roofies, although it can greatly weaken the victim.

"I'm looking for any information I can get about possible predators," said Lynch.

Date rape drugs: Precautions

Hood River City Police Capt. Kevin Lynch recommends that women take the following three precautions when drinking any beverage in a public setting:

* Watch your drink, do not leave it unattended.

* Watch out for each other, if you start to feel disoriented tell someone you know and don't leave with a stranger.

* Avoid punch bowls and don't accept opened drinks.

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