Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

  1. Overview
  2. Sexual Violence
  3. Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

There has been an increase in sexual assaults involving the use of drugs and alcohols as perpetrators find more severe and dangerous means to sedate victims. The common use of alcohol as a sedative is being combined with and even replaced by illicit use of drugs like Rohypnol (ro-hip-nol), Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Ketamine and Ecstasy. More and more frequently these drugs are being used to sedate potential sexual assault victims. Among reported cases in which drugs have been used to facilitate rape, the perpetrator most commonly slips the drug into the victim's drink. Some of these drugs used to facilitate sexual assault can be produced in forms that lack color, odor, taste, and dissolve quickly. A victim can ingest it unknowingly.


Though Rohypnol is illegal in the U.S., and GHB is FDA-approved only for physician supervised protocols, they are both manufactured and sold legally in other countries. Rohypnol is intended to curb severe sleep disorders, and GHB to be used as an adjunct to anesthesia.


75% of all acquaintance rapes involve alcohol and/or drugs. Drugs, when used with alcohol, can result in a loss of consciousness and a loss of the ability to consent. The effects of all drugs are enhanced when taken with alcohol. Victims who have been given alcohol and/or these sedating drugs often do not remember the assault itself and therefore may not immediately report it.


In West Virginia someone who is drunk or drugged cannot give consent to sex. If someone has sex with another person while she/he is in such an incapacitated condition, it is sexual assault. Simple possession of these drugs (described below) is punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a fine. Administering these drugs to another person without their knowledge and with the intent to commit a violent crime (including rape) is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine.

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