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Drugs Slipped Into Drinks Sending Many to ER: Report
Date:11/10/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In 2009, nearly 15,000 American women and men ended up in an emergency room after being unwittingly, but intentionally, drugged by someone else, a new federal report reveals.

According to the data, about 60 percent of these cases occurred after someone surreptitiously slipped a drug into the victim's drink.

Details outlined in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report -- touted as the first of its kind -- suggest that the problem extends to a broad section of society.

For example, nearly three-quarters of intentional poisonings involved individuals over the age of 21. And though the majority of cases involved females, nearly four out of every 10 victims was male.

"This is not an epidemic, but it is a serious situation," said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. "That means there are a lot of people who end up in the emergency room because a drug was given to them -- stimulants, cocaine, Ecstasy, anxiety drugs -- without their knowledge.

"So if you're in a situation where there's drinking and drug use going on, you need to keep an eye on things and pay attention," he added.

The SAMHSA researchers said there is a multitude of motives behind intentional drugging.

On the one hand, such poisonings have been implicated in the rapes of an estimated 3 million American women, although in reality that figure could be considerably higher. The problem, the report authors pointed out, is that not everyone realizes they have been drugged, recall can be spotty and the intent of the perpetrator can sometimes be difficult to discern.

What's more, intentional drugging is not solely about sexual assault, since victims can instead be targeted for robbery or injury.

To get a handle on the number and nature of intentional poisonings across the
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