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04 June 2006

Most sexual assaults drug related

Drug use was a factor in nearly 62 percent of sexual assaults, and nearly 5 percent of victims were given "date-rape" drugs, a new US study finds.

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Drug use was a factor in nearly 62 percent of sexual assaults, and nearly 5 percent of victims were given "date-rape" drugs, a new US study finds.

"In some cases, the substances are taken voluntarily by the victims, impairing their ability to make decisions. In other cases, the substances are given to the victims without their knowledge, which may decrease their ability to identify a dangerous situation or to resist the perpetrator," study author Adam Negrusz, an associate professor of forensic sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago College of Pharmacy, said in a prepared statement.

His team's study included 144 sexual assault victims who sought help at clinics in Texas, California, Minnesota and Washington state.

How the study was conducted
The victims in this study ranged in age from 18 to 56, with a mean age of about 27 years. They provided two urine samples and a hair specimen, and also provided information about the sexual assault and any drugs they were using.

"The urine and hair specimens were analysed for about 45 drugs that have either been detected in sexual assault victims or whose pharmacology could be exploited for drug-facilitated sexual assaults," Negrusz said.

62% drug related
The study found that nearly 62 percent of the victims had at least one of the 45 analysed drugs in their system, about 5 percent tested positive for "classic" date-rape drugs, and just over 4 percent had been drugged without their knowledge. About 35 percent of the victims were impaired due to voluntary drug use at the time of the sexual assault.

"This study demonstrated the need for toxicological analysis in sexual assault cases. It also demonstrated that sexual assault complainants severely under-report their illegal drug usage. This could be corrected if the administering nursing staff was better educated on taking a truthful drug history," Negrusz said.

The study was funded by the US National Institute of Justice, and can be accessed via the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more: Sex, drugs and taking risks

June 2006

 
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