Test kit to stop drink spikers
By KAREN COLLIER
Alert: Rhea Cario, Verity Adie and Karen Harrigan are aware of the dangers of drink tampering.
Picture: Todd Martyn-Jones
A TEST to detect date rape drugs slipped into drinks at pubs and nightclubs will be sold nationwide from tomorrow.
The release of the kit, the size of a credit card, follows fears hundreds of women in Victoria are sexually assaulted each year after drinks are spiked.
The product's developer says drops of contaminated drinks change colour within seconds when placed on a testing card with a straw, swizzle stick or finger.
It claims the Drink Spike Detector picks up the presence of the colourless and odourless illegal drugs ketamine (known as special K, kitty kat or K) and GHB (grievous bodily harm, fantasy, liquid ecstasy, gamma, G-juice and soap).
The drink test follows the British Government's banning of GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, blamed for dozens of deaths and implicated in many rapes and sexual assaults.
GHB can cause drowsiness, seizures, memory loss and unconsciousness.
When mixed with depressants such as alcohol or sleeping pills, it can shut down the central nervous system and cause breathing to stop.
Drink Safe Technologies director Dean Sunshine claimed the new detector could make the difference between a good night out and becoming a victim of sexual assault or other crimes.
Alcohol was the drug most commonly associated with sex assault, but cases involving other drugs were on the rise, he said.
"We feel this product is providing the community with an additional tool to help combat the growing problem of sexual assaults due to drink spiking," Mr Sunshine said.
He said GHB and ketamine were among the most popular illicit drugs used to spike drinks.
Assault victims were unable to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancy, he said.
The detector costs $13.95 for six tests.
It will first be available in Amcal and Guardian pharmacies, then other retailers from August.
The Centre Against Sexual Assault has previously raised concerns such tests can give people a false sense of security because of limits on the substances detected.
To help prevent drink-spiking and date rape, authorities advise patrons to:
DRINK from sealed containers.
BUY your own drinks.
HAVE someone you trust mind your drink.
TELL someone you trust if you are feeling unwell or disoriented.