Will Drug Identifying Coasters Be Enough to Curb Date Rape?

A frightening trend has emerged with statistics showing that women of college age are at a four times increased risk for sexual assault/rape than any other age group of women.  As these harrowing stories of sexual abuse increase on campuses nationwide, one university is taking a stand to help reduce this issue.  The University of New Mexico has taken action hoping to help by providing its university students with drink coasters that change color when exposed to two prevalent date rape drugs, gamma hydroxybutyrate and ketamine.

The idea is simple yet revolutionary.  Before taking the first sip, a young woman need only a small drop of liquid rubbed on two circles to rule out possible contamination.  The circles each test for a drug, one for gamma hydroxybutyrate and one for ketamine.  This process will quickly reveal if the drink has been spiked by the change of color (to blue) or lack thereof.  While coasters may not be enough to eliminate the problem, the university seeks to minimize incidents and even place fear in predators that they will be caught.

Will Coasters Be Enough?

Sadly, many cases of sexual assault go unreported entirely or never make it past the trusted ear of a family member or friend.  When someone has been drugged, it can be difficult to prove, or there can be confusion surrounding if the incident actually occurred.  Furthermore, there have been over 100 documented substances utilized by those perpetrating incidents of date rate.  Thus, a coaster identifying the two most common drugs will not be a complete solution to the problem.

Date rape drugs are so difficult to detect as they only remain in the system of the victim for a mere 12-72 hours after ingestion.  Henceforth, if the victim does not get to the hospital soon enough, it will be difficult to prove they were drugged.  The best course of action is to immediately go to the hospital for testing to ensure evidence can be obtained against the perpetrator if a woman thinks she has been assaulted.

The coasters are a great start in helping young women across the country take back control but will not be a complete solution.  The labeling on the coasters admit that while the coaster turning blue generally indicates that something is present in the drink, it does not guarantee it is either of the aforementioned drugs.  Additionally, as with most tests there is a margin for error and the possibility of a false-positive.  In the case of blue tinged drinks, it is possible for the coaster to show positive results that are occurring from the color of the drink rather than indicative of drug contamination.

Regardless, the coasters encourage awareness and prevention for such a terrible trend for college aged women.  While the problem is far from solved, every step is progress in protecting America‚Äôs young women.