The Steamboat Springs Police Department is making available kits that will test whether drinks have been spiked with three drugs oftentimes used in date rapes.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The Steamboat Springs Police Department is making available kits that will test whether drinks have been spiked with three drugs oftentimes used in date rapes.

Kits available to test for drugged drinks

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— The Steamboat Springs Police Department is making portable test kits available to the public that will indicate whether a drink has been drugged.

Tips for drinking safely:

• Don't leave drinks unattended.

• Watch your drink being opened or poured.

• Appoint a "drink watcher" if you need to leave your drink.

• Don't share drinks or drink leftovers.

• And remember, drug rape happens to men too.

Detective Josh Carrell said the police department bought 200 of the kits for about $600, and those interested in trying them out can pick one up at the police department.

"We want to provide these to community members so they can determine whether or not their drink has been drugged," Carrell said.

Carrell said the decision to offer the test kits was to raise awareness and was not in response to any particular incident, and there has not been an increase in reports of drinks being drugged.

"We'd like feedback on how they work," he said.

Carrell said that each year, the police department receives a couple of reports from people who thought someone put something in their drink at a bar. It is difficult to investigate the cases, though.

Carrell said that by the time someone thinks they may have been drugged, the drink usually is gone and cannot be tested. Oftentimes, the incidents are not reported until the next day, and a drugging cannot be confirmed because the drugs are no longer detectable in their bodies, Carrell said.

"People who are victimized by these types of drugs lack the memory," he said. "They oftentimes remember the last place they were and where they woke up."

The test kits are about the size of a credit card, and a pipette is included to put drops of the drink on three test strips. Each strip tests for a different drug. The product is made by London-based Bloomsbury Innovations.

Carrell said they tested the kits with the help of a local veterinarian who had access to benzodiazepine and ketamine. Both drugs are used as tranquilizers and are common date-rape drugs.

The third drug the kit tests for is gamma-hydroxybutyrate, a depressant that affects the central nervous system.

Carrell recommended that people use the tests in well-lit areas. Carrell said the ketamine test reacts quickly while the benzodiazepine test is slower to react.

"They appear to be reliable," Carrell said.

If someone suspects their drink has been drugged, Carrell said, people should save the drink and contact police.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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