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Alcohol Is the Most Common Drug of Rape Victims


February 1998

Alcohol was the most common drug found in urine samples obtained from rape victims, according to a study by forensic scientist Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly, a professor at the University of Mississippi (Associated Press, "Likeliest date-rape `drug' used is alcohol, according to study," Houston Chronicle, February 14, 1998, p. 8A).

The study examined urine samples from 578 rape victims provided by police departments, rape crisis centers, and emergency rooms. Dr. ElSohly found no drug present in 40% (234) of the samples. Alcohol was present in 36% (208) samples, marijuana metabolites in 17% (93), tranquilizers in 8% (49) and cocaine in 7% (40). The study was presented on February 13 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Less than 1%, only five samples, showed the presence of Rohypnol®, the so-called "date rape" drug, four of which showed the presence of other drugs. Hoffman-LaRoche, the producer of Rohypnol®, paid for urine sampling, according to Dr. Elsohly. Rohypnol® is used as a sleep aid. In 1996, the U.S. Congress banned Rohypnol®, amid national labeling of it as the "date rape" drug," and mandated an additional 20-year sentence for persons who use the drug to commit rape (see "Clinton Signs Legislation Increasing Penalties for Methamphetamine and Rohypnol®," NewsBriefs, November 1996).

Dr. Mahmoud ElSohly - University of Mississippi, 135 Coy Waller Complex, University, MS 38677, Tel: (601) 232-5928, Fax: (601) 232-5262.

Hoffman-LaRoche - 340 Kingsland St., Nutley, NJ 07110, Tel: (800) 526-6367, Fax: (201) 562-2390.