How to stay safe with reported ‘roofies’ on the rise | The Second Look
On this episode, Elinor Smith has a step-by-step breakdown of what to do if you or a friend experiences a roofie assault.

Since the start of the semester, the Student Advocacy Resource Center has received five times as many reports of “roofies,” or drug-facilitated assaults, than usual. The druggings happened at four different bars, and beg an important question: what should I do if a friend or I get roofied while we’re out for the night?

While experts say there are clear actions to take after being drugged, the nature of drug-facilitated assaults can make them tricky to investigate. 

Jen Euell is the director of the resource center, or “SARC” for short, and said one way to tell if you've been drugged — beyond a strange taste or smell — is to note your level of intoxication throughout the night. If you’re too drunk for what you’ve had, she said to trust your gut and find help.

According to Euell, there are a few common symptoms that can tip off friends that someone has been roofied.

“Loss of memory is pretty much universal,” Euell said. “In the people that we have talked with, I think some of the other effects can look like just looking really, really drunk, kind of ‘out of it,’ stumbling, maybe struggling with your speech, that kind of thing.”

Euell said if you or your friends believe you’ve been drugged, it’s best to seek medical help as soon as possible.

UM’s medical amnesty policy protects students from repercussions for getting help after consuming drugs or alcohol — even if those substances were consumed underage. According to the policy, students will not receive any academic penalties through the University. However, this does not stop students from facing legal consequences for breaking any laws while under the influence. 

UM police chief Brad Giffin encourages students to seek medical help if they believe they are too intoxicated. 

“If you find yourself in a position where medical attention is required, we would want you to feel more comfortable asking for that help than worrying about a criminal charge,” Giffin said.

Euell added there are some ways to keep yourself and your friends safe, though none are 100% effective. 

“Going out with friends and watching each other is one of the best strategies,” Euell said. “So, paying attention to how much your friends are drinking, making sure you do watch each other's drinks. And just try to just be vigilant and supportive of each other.”

Euell said there’s no way to know how someone will react to a drug put in their drink, especially with around four different drugs circulating, which is why it’s important to take a few key steps immediately after you’ve been drugged.

First, make sure you are safe. If you’re out with friends, go find them and tell them what’s going on. If you’re out by yourself, go tell the bartender and ask for help. 

Then, ask the bar to keep your drink, or find a way to take the drink with you. Euell said many of the drugs used to facilitate assault leave the body after around 24 hours, so by the time you feel better, you won’t be able to prove that you’ve been drugged. Keeping the drink solves that problem. 

After that, seek medical assistance. According to Euell, it’s hard to tell what someone’s reaction to any given drug will be. Some can have very low heart rates or convulsions. Euell and the team at SARC advise seeking medical treatment just in case you have a poor reaction to the drug. 

Finally, you can report your assault to the police once you are safe. You can report the assault at the ER or call the police over the non-emergency line. If the idea of reporting the assault is overwhelming or uncomfortable, Euell said that SARC is always there to help students get through the process. SARC workers will sit with students and provide support while they report their assaults, offer 12 sessions of free counseling or advocate for students who had to miss class or assignments due to their assault. 

And, students can always call the 24/7 crisis line at (406) 243-6559 to talk to a trained advocate to get support through any situation, day or night.

“It’s just nice to have an official record of what's going on,” Euell said. “And my hope is that, the more we raise awareness about this, the more likely we are to actually catch somebody in the act. Because what I’d really love to do, of course, is stop this from happening in the first place.”

The night of Dec. 4 started off planned and practiced. Getting into the bar was easy. It was just a matter of slipping in before the bouncers …