University Of New Mexico Gives Students Coasters Capable Of Detecting A Popular Date-Rape Drug

College-aged women are four times more likely to experience sexual violence than women of other age groups.

a young woman drinks an alcoholic beverage
Concord90 / Pixabay

College-aged women are four times more likely to experience sexual violence than women of other age groups.

The University of New Mexico is giving students, men and women alike, coasters designed to test if their drink has been adulterated with a date-rape drug, CNN reports.

College-age women are four times more likely than women of any other age group to be victimized by sexual violence. Sexual violence takes a number of different forms, and one form of this crime that seems to disproportionately affect college women is date rape. And in one of its more insidious forms, date rapes can occur when the assailant incapacitates his victim by “spiking” an alcoholic beverage with a drug that renders them semi-conscious and unable to resist or fight back.

Two such drugs known to be used in date rape are gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine. GHB is a depressant that can cause nausea and drowsiness, while ketamine can distort the user’s senses. Both drugs are, as illicit drugs go, cheap and readily available.

Now, however, women (and men) have a means of testing their drinks for such adulterants, and The University of New Mexico is giving them away for free. All a student has to do is stop by the university’s Campus Office for Substance Abuse Prevention and ask for the coaster.

In the field, “so to speak,” someone using the coasters merely has to dip their finger in their drink and touch a few drops of it on each of the two circles on the coasters. One tests for GHB, the other for ketamine. If either turns blue, the drink is adulterated with either of those drugs.

an alcoholic beverage
  Pexels / Pixabay

The system is far from foolproof, but it’s a start, says university official Randall Sterling. The fact that the devices even exist and are being used around campus may be enough to deter a potential date rapist from trying to spike a victim’s drink, he says.

“We hear tales. We all know someone [affected],” he said.

The coasters are just one tool being used to combat the seemingly-widespread problem of sexual violence against women on college campuses.

By some estimates, as many as half of the women who attend college say they were raped or sexually abused by their senior year. What’s more, victims are reluctant to involve law enforcement or campus authorities, instead reporting these crimes to friends or family members. Only 4.3 percent of sexual battery incidents and 12.5 percent of rapes were reported to authorities, according to the results of a recent study.

Similarly, another recent study found that 56 percent of women and 44 percent of men say they’ve been given a spiked drink at least once in their lives.