Drugged drinks

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The club is packed. The song finishes and you leave the dance floor and head back to your friends. It’s hot, so when you get back to your table, you grab your glass and take a swig.

And then you wake up the next morning.

You don’t know where you are or how you got there.

There’s a chunk of your life missing and you have no idea what you did or what was done to you.

It’s a sad truth that more and more people are coming forward with stories of their drinks being spiked when they are out on the town, despite their vigilance, despite having friends with them.

Some of the stories end well, with friends noticing something isn’t right and stepping in.

Others don’t end so well.

And let’s call it what it is in some cases — these aren’t date rape drugs, they’re rape drugs.

And their use is spreading across the country, with reports that drugs like GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, are overtaking ecstacy as the party-drug of choice. Others include ketamine and Rohypnol.

They’re colourless, odourless and tasteless and can be added to an unguarded drink in a second, and victims can be sexually assaulted, robbed, or both.

But what if you had a way of telling if someone had dosed your drink?

Enter Mike Abramson and DrinkSavvy.

A while back, he was at a Boston club celebrating a friend’s birthday. He had one drink. Halfway through it, he says it felt like it was his 15th.

“One of the few things I remember after that is

waking up with a massive headache and substantial nausea, feeling confused, and wondering, what happened to me that I don’t remember?” he says.

He figures either someone planned to dope him and rob him or he got a spiked drink intended for someone else. Either way he was terrified at how easily it happened.

“So, I took it upon myself to find out if there was anything out there that could help prevent this from happening to me again,” he says. “I found and bought drug testing strips to pour my drink on periodically to test if it was safe, but that was really annoying, incredibly socially awkward, and if someone drugged my drink 0.5 seconds after I tested, then I still wouldn’t know until my next test (or worse, after the effects had kicked in). I knew there had to be a better way, and I wanted to make sure this didn’t happen to anyone else. That’s what gave birth to DrinkSavvy.”

DrinkSavvy offers glasses and straws that change colour when exposed to some of the most common rape drugs. Come back from the dance floor, see the straw has turned bright red and you know your drink has been doctored.

Thanks to a crowdfunding drive on Indiegogo.com that raised more than $50,000, DrinkSavvy plans to launch its straws/sticks in the U.S. next month and its glasses next year. Abramson says they plan to provide the rape drug-detecting products to rape crisis centres free where they can, and  distribution to Canada and the rest of the world is a goal.

Nothing can replace vigilance, of course, when you are out at a club. But options like  DrinkSavvy’s are a good example of a business idea that combines good sense and good science.

Because no one deserves to go out for a good time only to wake up somewhere with a chunk of their life missing — or worse.

Geographic location: Boston, U.S., Canada

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