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J Psychoactive Drugs. 2006 Mar;38(1):1-12.

Ecstasy (MDMA), methamphetamine, and date rape (drug-facilitated sexual assault): a consideration of the issues.

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Auckland Hospital, New Zealand.


The term "date rape drug" has traditionally been applied by the media to powerful sedatives, such as gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), which can render a person unconscious and hence unable to resist and/or recall an assault. However, some law enforcement agents and others have recently obtained convictions by arguing that the empathy-generating and sensual effects of MDMA, and an occasional increase in disinhibition and sexual desire linked with methamphetamine use, remove a person's ability to give a reasoned consent, turning the person into "a helpless slave" to their own sexual desires and those of the alleged perpetrator. The argument holds that the victim becomes part of the assault because they may appear to be cooperating and colluding with activity which they would not have consented to without taking these drugs. This interpretation of the term "date rape" has been fed by data that sometimes finds MDMA and amphetamines in samples taken from sexual assault victims, and hence these prosecutions sometimes rely on expert testimony from toxicologists, pathologists and police officers rather than psychologists and psychiatrists who are expert in the human effects of these drugs. Some of those in the latter group have dismissed claims that MDMA is an aphrodisiac or a date rape drug as myths propagated by the media. In this article, these arguments and their respective strengths and weaknesses will be examined to assist professionals and others who may become involved in these cases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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