What is the Most Common Date Rape Drug?

Bottles of alcohol, the most common date rape drug.
Image: Pixabay

The most common date rape drug is legal, and sexual assault that involves it varies under individual state consent laws.

While government health and sexual violence awareness websites all tend to address Rohypnol, GHB and ketamine as the most common drugs behind sexual assault, many experts point to alcohol as the most common date rape drug.

There’s no question that the use of alcohol as a date rape drug just dwarfs the use of any other substances simply because it is so accessible and it’s legal,” said David Lisak, a clinical psychologist and consultant.

He told Radio-Canada that alcohol is a factor in at least 50 percent of sexual assault cases. “With alcohol, you can do it right in front of everybody. You buy somebody a drink. You buy them another drink. Who’s counting?” said Lisak, who is focused not just on the substances leading to date rape — but the culture behind it.

The law enforcement community and National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the United States have never been quite sure about how common the use of date rape drugs is among sexual assault cases, but are certain about alcohol’s role in rape.

“We really don’t know the true prevalence, but we know for sure alcohol is much more common than other drugs,” Dr. Susan R.B. Weiss, NIDA’s associate director for scientific affairs told Drugfree.org in 2013.

The non-profit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) also points to alcohol as the most commonly used substance in drug-facilitated sexual assault.

Sexual Assault Comes Down to Consent

According to RAINN, consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.

RAINN stands firm that someone that is incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol is not able to give consent.

However, consent law is different in every state.

“We know that the legal definitions for terms like rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse vary from state to state. But did you know that states vary in how they define someone’s ability or inability to consent to sex, too? No matter how a state defines it, consent always plays an important role in determining whether an act is legally considered a crime,” said Rebecca O’Connor, RAINN’s vice president for public policy.

The Question of Voluntary Alcohol Consumption

RAINN’s consent law database is a useful tool in understanding how consent may be viewed legally in criminal cases of sexual assault. Reports, like the one below, can be created and downloaded.

For the most common date rape drug – alcohol – it’s cultural status can affect how consent laws play out in court.

These cases are difficult to investigate and prosecute, according to a 2015 Marie Claire report, The Scary Future of Date-Rape Drugs — and Why Their Perpetrators Are So Hard to Bring to Justice.

Is voluntary intoxication a defense against sexual assault crimes? It’s not in Alaska, in Idaho, it depends, and in Kansas — yes, it is.

Review and download RAINN’s Alaska – Idaho – Kansas consent law comparison:

RAINN Consent Law Comparison Alaska Idaho Kansas by Ed Praetorian on Scribd

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.