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Party Safely This Spring Break

Flickr// dito_13

  Depending on the school, spring break is either here or just around the corner. Many hitting the beach and other locales could end up victims of so-called “date rape” drugs or underage drinking. But there are ways to protect oneself.

Sneaking something into a drink to incapacitate someone is nothing new. “Mickey Finns” were around when our grandparents were on spring break.  Denise Manassa with the Community Drug and Alcohol Council (CDAC) in Pensacola, says these days date rape drugs are known as “roofies” among other names.

The drugs can be in powder, liquid or pill form. For the most part they’re odorless and tasteless, which means they’re tough to detect when slipped into most alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. And the symptoms can be very distinct.

“Increased heart rate, increased blood pressure,” says Manassa. “Generally with these drugs you also see a muscle tension, a clinching of the teeth that sometimes can last more than one day, and nausea. We also associate decreased inhibitions, which can create other issues with unsafe sexual behavior.”

The best self-protection begins with ordering your own drink and making sure to watch it being poured. Manassa says if you get a canned beverage such as a beer, soda or energy drink, then be sure to open that can yourself

When mixed together the dangers of club drugs and booze are exacerbated. Alcohol is perhaps the bigger concern in this area, especially when it comes to “binge drinking” among high school and college-age students.

Part of what’s fueling underage drinking is peer pressure -- the same as with underage tobacco use. Manassa says the pressure to use alcohol is greater according to studies by CDAC, which place tobacco third behind alcohol and marijuana among drugs used by teens.

Manassa also reminds parents that Florida has an “Open House Party” law. It prohibits an adult from allowing possession or consumption of alcohol by individuals under the age of 21. Violations can lead to fines and jail time, along with responsibility for injuries and damages caused by the intoxication of a minor.