Date rape drugs take new form

So-called date-rape drugs are on
the rise, according to the United Nations drug control agency’s annual report.

The International Narcotics Control
Board says tough measures against the best-known drug, Rohypnol, have worked.

But sexual abusers are turning to
alternative substances subject to less stringent international controls.

It wants these placed on
governments’ controlled substances lists and for manufacturers to develop
safety features such as dyes and flavourings.

Professor Hamid Ghodse, of the
International Narcotics Control Board, said: “These drugs are used so as
to tremendously reduce people’s resistance to unwanted sexual activity and then
subsequently they might not even remember what happened.”

In the UK, ketamine, an
anaesthetic, has been a class-C drug since January 2006, while the solvent GBL,
or gamma-butyrolactone, was one of a number of “legal highs” that
became class-C drugs last year.

But both substances also have
legitimate uses, making it harder to keep them out of the hands of criminals.

Drug traffickers are also
increasingly using illegal pharmacies based overseas, the report says.

Orders are placed via the internet
or telephone call centres, with no prescription or other authorisation
required.

India is identified as one of the
main sources of these transactions.

The report calls on individual
governments to take appropriate action to prevent the misuse of modern
communication technology.

The Vienna-based agency also comments
on the widespread abuse of prescription drugs such as morphine, codeine and
methadone, calling it a “hidden problem”.

In some countries, more people are
abusing these drugs than the combined number of people taking heroin, cocaine
and ecstasy, it says.

In the US this amounts to 6.2
million people.

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