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Boston police warn returning students about spiked drinks

Boston.com 9/13/2022 Ross Cristantiello
Visitors to the Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge "cheers" with hands full of beer after work hours in Boston, Feb. 23, 2015. (Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe) © Gretchen Ertl/Boston Globe Visitors to the Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge "cheers" with hands full of beer after work hours in Boston, Feb. 23, 2015. (Gretchen Ertl for The Boston Globe)

With thousands of young people flocking to Boston for the beginning of college semesters, Boston Police are warning them to be wary of spiked drinks at parties and bars. 

In a letter posted Monday, Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox wrote that the department was made aware of numerous social media posts by people saying their drinks were recently spiked at Boston bars. 

In particular, police are hoping to educate the public on Rohypnol, a scentless, colorless, and tasteless drug also commonly referred to as “roofies.” The drug is prescribed in certain countries to treat insomnia, but is illegal in the U.S. Rohypnol pills easily dissolve in liquid, making it possible for people to slip them into drinks. 

Other drugs commonly used in a similar way are GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) and Ketamine, police said. All of these drugs cause, among other symptoms, disorientation, confusion, temporary paralysis, and unconsciousness.

Anyone who believes they have been drugged is urged to report the incident to the BPD or call 911. 

The department issued a similar warning in May after being alerted to social media posts about spiked drinks in the city. The Barnstable Police Department also issued a warning about spiked drinks in the spring. 

Police added these tips for the public:

  • Create a “buddy system” to prevent getting separated.
  • Be sure that your drink is being served directly by the bartender or your server. Don’t allow people you don’t know or trust to order drinks and deliver them to you.
  • Watch your drink at all times. Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Take your drink with you to the restroom if need be.
  • Keep your hand covered over your drink when you’re not looking at it. Many creative inventions exist that can help you cover your drink.
  • Test your drink with test strips or nail polish that light up a certain color if they detect drugs.
  • Get help immediately if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, or strange in any way.

People should also be aware of “uncharacteristic behavior” by acquaintances and strangers attempting to lure them away from their friends. 

If members of the public see anyone who appears to be in distress, wandering alone late at night, or is dressed unsuitably for the weather, they should contact police immediately. 

A Facebook group called Booze in Boston has a crowdsourced list of bars and restaurants where users’ beverages were allegedly drugged.

If someone experiences fuzzy memory of the night before and extreme hangover symptoms, that could mean they were drugged, according to American Addiction Centers. They should check their body for marks and bruises and see if their clothes are disheveled. If someone believes they have been raped, they should not urinate, shower, wash their hands, brush their teeth, eat, or drink before going to a hospital or crisis center to preserve as much potential evidence as possible.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is (800) 656-4673.

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