Question: What are "beer goggles?"
Answer: The phrase "beer goggles" describes the influence that alcohol and drugs have on one's perception of another person's appearance. Guys often use this term in a demeaning fashion. However, the term is not connected to a specific gender. Males and females equally can fall prey to the impact of drugs and alcohol on their judgment and decision-making ability. Research sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has shown that drug and alcohol use can negatively affect a teen's judgment about sexual (and other) behaviors, increasing the chance that users will engage in unplanned and unprotected sex. This activity can place teens at increased risk for contracting HIV and other STDs from infected sex partners.
Recently the media has focused attention on date rape drugs, substances that are used to render a person unconscious and susceptible to rape. These drugs, which are typically slipped into a drink, leave the victim with no recollection of what happened. Date rape drugs generally fall under the heading of depressants, because they depress the functions of the central nervous system, causing symptoms such as drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, visual disturbances, and a sense of euphoria (feeling of extreme elation and well-being). Three substances are commonly identified as date rape drugs: Rohypnol, GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), and ketamine. Two other less popular chemical depressants related to GHB are GBL (gamma-butyrolactone), and 1,4 butanediol, sometimes called BD.
Rohypnol, which may be the most widely used date rape drug, is actually a potent tranquilizer that was developed for use as a surgical anesthetic (painkiller), muscle relaxant, or sleeping pill. It is the trade name for the drug flunitrazepam, a benzodiazepine. On the street, Rohypnol has a wide array of names, including roofies, rope, ruffies, ruffles, Roche, forget-me pill, Roffies, rophies, R-2s, LaRocha, Mexican Valium, rib, roach, and roofenol.
The effects of Rohypnol include muscle relaxation and a slowing of motor (muscular) response. It also decreases blood pressure, causes urinary retention, and produces an alcohol-like intoxication. The most profound effect of the drug is that it produces anterograde amne-sia—the inability to remember events that take place after the drug was taken. It is this aspect of the drug that causes it to be so widely used as a date rape drug. The effects of Rohypnol kick in roughly 10-20 minutes after ingestion and last from two to eight hours. When Rohypnol is mixed with alcohol, it results in lack of inhibition along with the amnesia. The effects can last from eight to 24 hours.
Rohypnol is odorless and tasteless. However, due to its unintended use as a date rape drug, the company changed the formula so a color appears when Rohypnol is dissolved in liquid. In the past, Rohypnol was undetectable in drinks. The reformulated pills now take 45 minutes to dissolve, leave a chalky film, and turn a light-colored drink blue. It may take some time to remove all the old formula off the streets, so teens need to be vigilant.
Rohypnol is available in three different forms: as a .5-milligram oblong tablet, a 1.0-milligram tablet, and a 1.0-milligram per liter injectable solution.
If someone shows signs of being drunk—dizziness, confusion, or other sudden unexplained symptoms—after drinking any beverage, chances are he or she has been drugged. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been drugged, seek medical attention immediately. Rohypnol by itself is rarely life threatening, but when mixed with alcohol it can slow certain vital functions—such as heartbeat and breathing—to dangerously low levels. Victims are at risk of coma or even death from respiratory failure.
Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, goes by a variety of street names, including liquid ecstasy, liquid X, easy lay, grievous bodily harm, saltwater, scoop, and Gamma-O. It is an odorless, colorless, liquid depressant that acts like an anesthetic. GHB acquired its reputation as a date rape drug because of the tranquility, sensuality, and loss of inhibitions it produces, particularly in women. GHB also promotes hormones that stimulate muscle growth. Bodybuilders used to take GHB, but its use has been banned since 1990 because of its side effects. At lower doses, GHB produces euphoria similar to alcohol, generating the feeling of being relaxed, happy, and sociable. At higher doses, dizziness, vomiting, and muscle spasms are possible. GHB produces symptoms of lethargy, extreme intoxication, impaired judgment, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. It can also cause unconsciousness, depression, seizures, severe respiratory depression, and coma. Once the drug is consumed, symptoms appear within 15-20 minutes and can last two to three hours. However some effects may continue to linger for an entire day. The symptoms are more dangerous when GHB is slipped into alcohol, because both drugs depress central nervous system functioning. Symptoms such as respiratory depression and coma are a result of mixing alcohol and GHB. The combination has caused a number of deaths.
One of the most dangerous aspects of GHB use is the unpredictability of dosages. Because GHB is manufactured in basements, the strength and size of a dose are inconsistent, making it unpredictable and especially dangerous. A dose that produced no serious problems one time may result in an overdose the next time. Also, a variety of factors can impact dosage including body weight and the amount of food an individual has consumed. There is no "safe" dose of GHB, and previous experience with the drug is not necessarily a reliable predictor of future experiences.
Although GHB is produced primarily in liquid form, it can also be found in powder or capsule form. GHB is colorless, odorless, and has a slightly salty taste that makes it easy to mistake for a highly carbonated health drink. It dissolves easily in liquids and can be added to bottled water or hidden in other containers. The fact that it can be easily added to a drink without the victim's knowledge increases the dangers associated with the drug.
Ketamine is a relatively new date rape drug. It is a legal drug that is used as an animal tranquilizer due to its anesthetic characteristics. Ketamine has a wide array of street names, which include K, Special K, vitamin K, and Ket. Its effects have been compared to those of PCP and include hallucinations, amnesia, and dissociation—a feeling that the mind is separated from the body. Ketamine can also produce near-death experiences, depression, long-term memory and cognitive difficulties, and fatal respiratory problems. Ketamine is typically a liquid that is injected, applied to smokable material, or consumed in drinks. It can also be found as a powder or pill.
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