Study Examines Drink Spiking on College Campuses

SwanA new study led by Suzanne C. Swan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, examined the phenomenon of drink spiking on three college campuses. Commonly referred to as a “roofie,” (originally named for the strong sedative, Rohypnol), drinking spiking using many different drugs is frequently cited as one of many contributors to a culture of sexual assault on college campuses.

The researchers surveyed more than 6,000 students on three college campuses: the University of South Carolina, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Kentucky. More than 460 students reported that they had been drugged by drink spiking. This is nearly 8 percent of all respondents to the survey. Men were more than 20 percent of the victims of drink spiking. More than 80 students, 1.4 percent of those surveyed, admitted spiking another student’s drink. About half of these students who had drugged someone said they had done so more than once.

Of the 460 victims who had been drugged, 56 students said they had been subjected to unwanted sexual touching and 25 reported being raped. Almost a similar number reported that the drugging experience had been fun and they enjoyed it. More than two thirds of the victims reported they had “blacked out” and did not believe they had been sexually abused.

Dr. Swan joined the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 2003. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama and holds a Ph.D. in social and personality psychology from the University of Illinois.

The study, “Just a Dare or Unaware? Outcomes and  Motives of Drugging (“Drink Spiking”) Among Students at Three College Campuses,” was published on the website of the journal Psychology of Violence. It may be downloaded by clicking here.

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