It happens all too frequently. A woman goes to a bar, has a drink, and wakes up the next morning unsure what happened or where she spent the night. Ashamed, she makes her way home and vows never to speak of the incident again.
Sadly, I have more than one friend who has a story similar to this one. And in almost every case, the woman involved initially blamed herself for drinking too much, even though she knew she hadn’t.
Statistics show that one in 13 people will be the victim of a drug-facilitated assault in their lifetime. (That’s what it’s officially called when someone slips a drug into your drink to take advantage of you.) And it’s not just happening to women. Countless men have also come forward to claim that they have also been victims.
As the mom of two children in the thick of adolescence, these statistics and stories are terrifying. But they don’t have to be paralyzing. There are already several products in the works that can help prevent these tragic stories from ever happening.
KnoNap, 'the napkin that knows'
One such product is KnoNap, a seemingly average-looking bar napkin that can be used to detect the presence of drugs from the benzodiazepine family, which includes Rohypnol, Xanax and Valium, drugs commonly used in drug-facilitated assault.
KnoNap was created by Danya Sherman, a college student at George Washington University who unfortunately has her own drug-facilitated assault story to share. But rather than feel ashamed, Sherman wanted to do something to help other women feel empowered. Her hope is that KnoNap will be carried by bars and social organizations so that "individuals are able to use KnoNap in uncomfortable social settings to discreetly test their drinks," Sherman told MNN.
And Sherman’s KnoNap isn’t the only option available to keep women and men safe. Three high school students from Miami recently invented a straw that can be used to detect certain drugs in a drink. A company called Undercover Colors is currently developing a line of nail polish that can detect drugs when the wearer dips her finger in her drink. Drug-detecting cups and coasters are also in the works.
We all wish we lived in a world where these products didn't need to exist. But since we don't, it’s good to know so much smart work is being done to find a solution.