Test strips to detect drugs

A new device that tests for the presence of so-called “date rape” drugs in drinks is being marketed on the Internet.

Florida-based Drink Safe Technology has developed a test strip that will detect the presence of such drugs as gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol (rohies) and ketamine (special K).

The new form of detection doesn’t catch everything. A drawback is that the strips don’t work with beverages containing milk products.

“We don’t promote the date rape kit to students because it is designed to pick up on specific drugs, and there are so many drugs out there that can go undetected,” said Natasha Clayton, FAMU’s director of the victim advocacy program.

“Using coasters gives students a false sense of security.”

Another product used for detection includes a drink coaster, designed with two areas that test for traces of date rape drugs.

A drop of tainted liquid on the coaster will change the color of the cardboard.

They are easy to use. A drink straw can drip a few drops of a drink on the test strip. If the liquid turns blue, toss the drink.

In a survey done by the University of Massachusetts, 13 percent of undergraduates were victims of date rape.

Another 10 percent were victims of attempted rape and 7 percent of these women were physically forced by men to have sex.

The remainder of the women in the survey had been raped by the threat of physical force or by being overcome with drugs or alcohol.

“Women are most at risk between the ages of 16 and 24,” said Clayton.

“Since this is when young women begin to date, they are particularly vulnerable to being a victim of date rape.”

FAMU and FSU offer support services and information on sexual violence.

Both campuses also offer support and counseling referrals for long-term counseling and a volunteer to accompany victims to the hospital and police stations

“We do many presentations on campus,” said Jacqui Pequinot, assistant dean of students at FSU.

“We do seminars in residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, classrooms and first year experience orientations. Last year we reached 10,621 students.”

In the United States, the strips are available online at www.drinksafetech.com for 40 cents each.

In the prevention of date rape, women should remember to be wary about accepting drinks from anyone they don’t know.

Using the buddy system is also a good way to keep an eye on friends.

Stacey Phillips can be reached at Stacey_nicole79@hotmail.com.