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Date rape drug or ketamine -- 10 facts you should know

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : July 27, 2014 6:10 PM IST

When we hear of a rape, most of us think it would never happen to us, but with a new case of rape being reported every 20 minutes, staying safe is your best bet. What makes this statistic even more morbid is that there is a rising number of incidences of rapes made easy with the use of ketamine or 'the date rape drug'. Usually added to drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) ketamine is a very powerful sedative, which is virtually undetectable until you notice the symptoms. Here is a post in which Dr Hemant Shinde, consultant anaesthesiologist at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical Hospital, Mumbai, will tell you exactly what the drug is, and how you can protect yourself from its ill effects.

1. Ketamine is an anaesthetic agent used to anaesthetise children and is used very rarely in extremely specific conditions in adults. It causes dissociation from the surroundings and good pain relief without having any depressive effect on respiration and blood pressure as seen with most of the other anaesthetic agents.

2. It is available in powder as well as liquid form and is colourless as well as tasteless. Because of these properties it is used for drugging people in parties and hence is notoriously known as date rape drug.

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3. There is no way a person can know once he or she is drugged by ketamine. If the dose is sufficient the person will go off to sleep and will wake up hours or days later once the effect of the drug wears off. (Read: General anaesthesia and surgery all your queries answered)

4. The drug causes hallucinations in adults and the person can suffer from bad dreams for years! The drug also causes nystagmus (a condition where the eyes keep shifting from one side to the other) -- this trait is a characteristic of this drug. It also increases the blood pressure.

5. Once drugged, it does not feel like an alcoholic high. It is much like being anaesthetised, where you will not feel any sensation (neither pain nor any discomfort). A person who is drugged is also likely to be unable to move on his/her own. Ketamine is known as a dissociative anaesthetic, where you will likely feel disassociated from your surroundings and yourself.

6. After the drug has worn off you might feel depressed, have loss of memory, lack of cognition or understanding and be extremely anxious.

7. Learn to stay safe. Usually you cannot do anything after you have been drugged, hence one has to take precautions before being drugged. Never trust anyone is the first principal. Never accept a drink or food from a stranger as well as a person known to you unless the drink is made in front of you. Make your own drinks in a party or watch when the drink is being prepared.

8. If you feel that the drink is laced do not drink it. If you do drink something that you suspect is laced, discard the drink and leave the place immediately with someone whom you can trust. This way you will be in a safe place, before the medicine acts. Moreover since you did not drink the entire dose, you will not feel the effects of the entire laced drink.

9. Overdosing on this drug is extremely easy, has serious complications and can lead to death. One of the most noticeable symptoms of an overdose is extremely slow breathing and unconsciousness. Moreover if it is administered to a person with high blood pressure or any kind of heart defect it can kill them.

10. There is no particular treatment if you have had a drink laced with the date rape drug. The only solution is to sleep it off, preferably for a day since it takes that much time to wear off.

Statistical source: National Crime Records Bureau report, 2011.

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