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So many date-rape drugs: Creeps have more than roofies up their sleeves these days

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AMARILLO, Texas (CIRCA via KVII) — A reporter's job is to report the news, but on Oct. 25, 2018, KVII correspondent Lia Kamana became the news.

It happens more than you think: drugs being slipped into people's drinks at bars, clubs or parties. And oftentimes, the results can be devastating.

"It started off like any other night out with friends," Kamana said.

Kamana and her friends caught an Uber to an Amarillo bar. At first, they were all just hanging out, but then three of them moved to the bar. Then, three different men bought them drinks over the course of an hour.

"I thought I was being careful," Kamana said. "I was standing at the bar, saw the bartender pouring, saw the bartender hand the drinks over. The only time I turned my back was to hand them to my two friends."

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KVII reporter Lia Kamana was given a date rape drug, GHB, gamma hydroxybutyric acid, on Oct. 25 in Amarillo, Texas, which was proven through an analysis of her hair. She's been trying to piece together what happened that night since then, when she woke up in jail the next morning.

When trying to recall the night, Kamana says it stops shortly after that. It went all black.

The following morning, Kamana woke up in the Potter County, Texas, Jail. She had no recollection of how or why she got there.

"When a person knows it wasn’t just the one drink, but they have no memory, that can be a very frightening experience, and then that person knows they had no control over their body, they had no control over what happened," said Kathy Tortoreo, director of crisis services at Family Support Services of Amarillo.

More than two months later, Kamana is still trying to figure out what happened that night. She says she will probably never know.

"These (drugs) are not only chosen because they cause rapid sedation and almost paralysis, but they cause amnesia as well. That’s why they are so desirable," explained Dr. Thomas Martin, medical director for the Texas Panhandle Poison Center.

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Dr. Thomas Martin, the medical director for the Texas Panhandle Poison Center, says a date rape drug will stay in a victim's urine for eight to 10 hours maximum. Analysis of a person's hair is another way to prove if that person was drugged.

So far, Kamana has been able to piece together that she was kicked out of the bar and sometime after that, she was arrested.

"Unfortunately, I think it just looks like someone intoxicated, sedated, so you don’t know when you see someone at the bar. ... You have no idea if they drank too much or if someone spiked their drink," Martin said.

The people with Kamana at the bar that night saw nothing, and others she knew who were there also saw nothing.

"If you are out and you see a woman who seems to be very inebriated, she is a very vulnerable victim. Make sure only her husband, her fiancé, or someone very trustworthy would take her home," Martin said. "While she appears to be really intoxicated with what looks like alcohol, and it could be, but it could also be GHB, a benzodiazepine, or another sedative that was given to her without her knowledge."

Somewhere along the way, Kamana believes she was physically assaulted, but she doesn't know by whom.

According to Martin, it's common for a victim to wake up with wide lapses in their memory or only remember small parts of the episode.

"Because I ended up behind bars, I didn't have time to worry about what happened. I just knew I had to start fighting to prove I was the victim, not the perpetrator," Kamana said.

Martin said Kamana's story is eye-opening and can show how a victim can be mislabeled and looked at as an irresponsible person.

Kamana hired an attorney to help figure out how to prove her innocence. They started by calling both Northwest Texas and Baptist St. Anthony (BSA) hospitals to see if they could help, but both hospitals said no. So Kamana decided to just walk through the doors of BSA.

"I told them I thought I was a victim of date-rape drugs. They admitted me, but they told me I couldn't get the test I wanted unless the police were involved," Kamana said.

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When many people think of date rape drugs, they think of "roofies." But manufacturers have helped make them a less desirable choice for predators. A special dye will turn a drink blue if it has been roofied, and some are made with little flakes so that when put it in a drink, you can see the flakes floating at the top.

More than 24 hours had passed, though, so it was already too late to take the test.

"It (date-rape drugs) doesn’t usually stay in the urine for more than eight to 10 hours maximum, after that, you can’t detect it," Martin said. "Most women, they are groggy when they go home, they don’t know, they can’t really remember, by the time they get to a place they can be checked and their urine can be tested, it’s too late."

Kamana's last hope to prove she was drugged was hair analysis.

"I have been preaching that. It’s very important for people who (are too late for the urine test)," Martin said.

"Someone tried to hurt me. Someone did hurt me."
Lia Kamana, a reporter for KVII in Amarillo, Texas, who was given a date rape drug

Kamana's test results came back positive for GHB, gamma hydroxybutyric acid. According to experts, GHB is currently one of the most popular date-rape drugs.

"GHB is a readily available drug that is still out there. It’s a chemical compound, and not only is there GHB being sold, there are precursors which are legal," Martin said.

Most people, when they think of date-rape drugs, they think of "roofies" or Rohypnol. But manufacturers have helped make roofies a less desirable choice for predators. A special dye will turn a drink blue if it has been roofied, and some are made with little flakes so that when put it in a drink, you can see the flakes floating at the top.

Predators have turned to other drugs such as ketamine and GHB.

"Ketamine, it will put someone into a dissociative amnesia. It makes them feel like they are having an out-of-body experience. Whereas a benzodiazepine and GHB is something that is going to make the victim very calm, and some women report they almost feel paralyzed," Martin said.

Kamana's positive test results helped in proving her innocence, but she realized that was only part of her battle.

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Kathy Tortoreo, director of crisis services at Family Support Services of Amarillo, said victims who have been given date rape drugs often have to be taught to not blame themselves for the situation they were in when they were drugged.

According to Tortoreo, they really have to work with victims to retrain their thought processes. She says it's easy for them to say, "if I hadn't done it this way, if I hadn't gone, if I hadn't turned my back."

"While there was a sigh of relief with my results, it also made the situation more real. Someone tried to hurt me. Someone did hurt me," Kamana said.

Unfortunately, there are predators everywhere.

"It’s not OK that there are people out there victimizing vulnerable individuals, taking advantage of it, and getting away with it," Tortoreo said. "The shame is on those people, the shame is on those offenders, but it’s the victims that carry it with them.”

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