No need for a coozie on this cup. DrinkSavvy, a Boston-based company, announced plans to create cups and straws that change color when they come in contact with a drug-spiked beverage.
In a video on the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s website, DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson says he hopes his product line will help raise awareness about drug-facilitated sexual assault. Abramson intends to raise $50,000 to build the product prototypes by soliciting donations on the fundraising website Indiegogo.
Why is this technology so exciting? Because the most common Ã¢â‚¬Å“date rapeÃ¢â‚¬Â drugs--flunitrazepam (Rohypnol, or roofies), gama-hydroxyy butarate (GHB), and KetamineÃ¢â‚¬”are colorless and odorless, making them very difficult to detect, says Sara Nasserzadeh, PhD, associate secretary for North America at the World Association for Sexual Health.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They act almost like muscle relaxants,Ã¢â‚¬Â Nasserzadeh says. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And although the early symptoms are similar to being drunk, it can get much more serious as the drug passes through your system.Ã¢â‚¬Â Other symptoms of being drugged include an initial sense of confusion, drowsiness, vision problems, and trouble breathing, she says. A large amount of the drugs can also be fatal. Unfortunately, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also often difficult to know if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been drugged, she explains. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These types of substances clear out of your system very fast. Even if you have been drugged and seek help the day after, police may not be able to tell if it is in your blood or not,Ã¢â‚¬Â she says.
While the prospect of drug-detecting cups is exciting, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unfortunately a very small step in combating the very serious problem of rape and sexual assault. According National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. And approximately one-half of all sexual assault victims report that they were drinking alcohol at the time of the assault, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Statistics are hard to come by (many sexual assaults are never reported), but evidence suggests that most rapes arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a result of date-rape drugsÃ¢â‚¬”that alcohol itself is the date-rape drug of choice. Either way, any sort of sexual assault is never acceptable, regardless of how intoxicated either party may be. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Even if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re drunk, that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give anyone permission to rape you or take advantage of you. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s never the victimÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fault,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Nasserzadeh.
That being said, even if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to completely protect you from sexual predators, protecting your drink from drugs is a good habit to learn. And before this color-changing cup line comes out, here are other ways you can monitor your drink.
Order Your Own Drinks DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t accept any beverages from strangers or people you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trust. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If someone offers you a drink, go with them and keep your eye on the glass and the bartender the entire time,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Nasserzadeh. Then make sure to take it directly from the bartender and walk away with it yourself.
Avoid Open Containers Say no to drinks made in punch bowl or pitchers, says Nasserzadeh. Either mix your own drink at a party, or opt for a canned or bottled drink that hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been opened yet.
Cover Your Cup Never set your drink down or lose sight of it for any moment, even if you are talking with a friend. Hold the cup by covering the top with your palm, says Nasserzadeh. That way, when your attention is diverted, you can feel free to join in the conversation knowing your cup is protected.
Try Not to Share Sipping from someone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cup not only spreads germsÃ¢â‚¬”it raises your risk of consuming something dangerous, says Nasserzadeh. For starters, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be sure your friend has kept a watchful eye on her own cup. And secondly, many people have very different reactions to drugs, so her behavior isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a good indicator, she says. Just because someone doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem drugged doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean her drink is safe.
Sip Slowly Physiologically speaking, alcohol enters a womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bloodstream faster than a manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, so women can get drunk faster than men, says Nasserzadeh. Make sure to drink small amounts at a time versus chugging or taking shots. Taking time to consume your beverage gives you more time to become aware of your symptoms if your drink was altered.
Notice Unusual Flavors If your drink tastes, smells, or looks strange, do not consume it. GHB in particular has a strong, salty flavor, says Nasserzadeh, and you may taste it in your drink if it has been spiked. Also avoid foggy drinks or drinks that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t taste like what you expected, both of which can signs that the beverage has been tampered with.
If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, here are resources available to you: National Sexual Violence Resource Center Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment
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