DrinkSavvy Company Offers Promising Counter To Date Rape Drugs

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Peter Crump
Staff Writer

While some may contend that the party reputation of University of California, Santa Barbara is overblown, few would claim that spending weekends out in Isla Vista comes completely without danger. Simple mistakes like carrying a cup on the street or sitting on the sidewalk can be easily avoided, but other dangers, like date rape, are more difficult to fight. An emerging company called DrinkSavvy strives to combat date rape by using glassware that will alert you if your drink has been spiked, effectively countering date rape drugs.

The simplest way to prevent your drink from being spiked is by keeping it in sight. However, as DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson explains on the products website, in reality, “It’s impossible” to keep your eye on your drink all night, and popular date rape drugs such as GHB and Rohypnol are “odorless, colorless, and tasteless once they are in your drink.”

In a recent interview with NBC, Abramson, who has been drugged unwittingly himself, explained his motivation behind starting the company.

“I was at a bar celebrating a friend’s birthday and I went to the bar to get my first drink of the night and really not long thereafter it started feel much more like my 15th,” Abramson said. He was lucky that his friends brought him home safely, though he woke up the next morning “not knowing what happened the night before.”

After going through such an experience and contemplating “what could have happened,” Abramson now offers a solution to help the “over a million estimated victims a year” of “drug facilitated sexual assault,” according to the DrinkSavvy website.

According to the Guardian, Abramson found current drink testing kits that use paper tabs to be too cumbersome.

“You have to pull it out, you have to dip it in your drink, wave it around, wait till it dries off, then you have to see if it changes color,” he said—and that’s not to mention that you have to remember to do it in the first place. So with the help of John MacDonald, a professor of chemistry at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Abramson developed DrinkSavvy.

If your drink is spiked, then a pattern of colored stripes will appear around the cup. Similarly, if the DrinkSavvy straw is used, the color of the straw will change completely. Currently, only disposable plastic cups and straws are in development, but there are future plans to expand to glassware, bottles, and cans as well, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Sexual assaults involving alcohol and non-date rape drugs like marijuana and cocaine are more common than assaults with “date-rape” drugs. According to WFSB news, a study conducted by Brown University showed that alcohol was involved in “90% of all [college] campus rapes.

Still, Abramson says the risks of “date rape” drugs are real, according to the Guardian. He goes on to say that while DrinksSavvy products are currently “focused on combating drug-facilitated assault, the larger message is much more important”: that the best way to prevent any substance related sexual assaults is through education.

“If you can raise awareness about it,” he said, “you’re doing half the battle right there.”

DrinkSavvy is currently in the development stage, but the company has raised $52,000 from individual contributors and will begin shipping out the disposable cups and straws to crowd-funders by December. The products will be available to the general public beginning mid-2014.