Alarming Email From The NYS Inbox

October 12, 2008 by
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

When I got home this evening I found the following (and incredibly troubling) message in my inbox. Anonymous writes:

I’m writing in the hopes that you might be able to help me
reach out to Greenpoint residents about something that happened to myself and several friends on Friday night.  Apologies if this is somewhat long, but I think the details are important to understanding the situation.

This is what happened. I met with four friends shortly after 10pm on Friday night (Oct. 10th) at the Black Rabbit, where we scored a large table in back. There were 3 women and 2 men. Two of us had met earlier for dinner, the rest arrived from elsewhere. I know that my friend and I had had one cocktail at about 7:30 and one glass of wine with dinner. The other people arrived from disparate places– most had consumed one, maybe two drinks earlier in the evening. In short, we weren’t stone cold sober, but we were by no means drunk– this is a pretty quiet group of people in their mid-30s to early 40s.

We ordered one round of drinks– 3 of us had Sixpoint pints, two had mixed drinks. Everything was fine, we all were totally lucid, talking about Halloween costume ideas. At approximately 11pm, we ordered a second round of drinks– 4 of us ordered Sixpoints, the 5th had another mixed drink. For those who have not been, there is table service at this bar– a waiter orders and retrieves the drinks from the bartender. We know this waiter from having come many times in the past. There is a kind of staging area at the end of the bar where the drinks are placed, waiting to be picked up.

I remember everything we were talking about, and I remember ordering the drink. I remember the drink being put down in front of me. The next think I remember is waking up fully clothed lying on top of my bed. My boyfriend was lying on the floor in the living room. I have no recollection of how we got home (just a few blocks away), but later learned that I had melted down about 5 minutes after starting my drink and asked to be taken home. My boyfriend was trying to pay the bill but started slurring and not speaking coherently. The two other women we were with were too spaced out to notice. The only person who was aware of, and alarmed by the sudden change in our behavior was the mixed drink drinker, who was completely fine.

Apparently on our walk home, we were stumbling and my boyfriend was clinging to the sides of buildings trying to stay standing up. I guess he fell twice, although I can’t remember a single thing. Two of our friends had come from Fort Greene– luckily the person who was not affected was there to get his girlfriend home, who found she could barely stand after she got on the G train. She threw up repeatedly for 24 hours. The rest of us had splitting headaches and have been unnaturally exhausted for two days.

I don’t know what to say about what caused this reaction, and I don’t want to throw around accusations. But the severity and the suddenness of this group response seems very, very strange, and very suspicious. I’ve NEVER had a reaction like this and the symptoms, while consistent with drunkenness, involved a severely disproportionate loss of motor skills. It’s honestly very frightening– I feel fortunate that we were able to get home without getting injured or worse.

I’m telling you all this for two reasons– the first, to try to find out if anything like this has happened to anyone else. I posted an inquiry on Craigslist, but thought that your readership might a better place to look for advice.

The second is that, if something underhanded did happen, I think that people should know and should take extra precautions in terms of monitoring their drinks. I’m especially concerned about women out by themselves. I’m a regular at the Black Rabbit– I honestly don’t think it was anyone who worked there, and I don’t want to cast a pallor on a great local business. But this is serious, and I think people need to know about it. We were INCAPACITATED, utterly unable to fend for ourselves, and it happened within a span of 10-15 minutes. I am having trouble finding an explanation for what happened that doesn’t point toward something being put in our drinks. If this is someone’s idea of a sick joke, people need to be on the look out– bartenders/owners especially, as this is the kind of thing that can cause you to lose your liquor license.

We’ve spoken to the owner of the bar and asked him to file a police report. If anyone had a similar experience, it is important for them to contact me so that we can gather as much information as possible to get to the bottom of this case.

I’m sorry to send such a strange message, but I’m at a loss about what to do. I’m not sure if you would be willing to write about this in your blog, but I thought it was worth a try. I feel a little uncomfortable posting my real name and email address (I’m a professor at CUNY with a pending tenure case, and while I’m sure there’s no direct conflict there, I’d rather not have a google search of my name be linked to getting slipped a mickey)…

As soon as I read this missive I immediately said to myself:

GHB (AKA: gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) or Rohypnol. Both are siblings in the family of “date rape” drugs.

I have mentioned once or twice before on this blog that I once worked for a crime victims board. The state I worked in had a problem with violence against women, e.g.; aggravated battery, domestic violence and rape. To this end the V.A.W.A. and V.O.C.A. office worked very hard to raise awareness about “date rape drugs”. I am neither an expert nor do I have the benefit of drug test results. But Anonymous’s story sounds a lot like a heavy dose of GHB and or Rohypnol. Possibly both.

Anonymous wrote:

Apparently on our walk home, we were stumbling and my boyfriend was clinging to the sides of buildings trying to stay standing up. I guess he fell twice, although I can’t remember a single thing… We were INCAPACITATED, utterly unable to fend for ourselves, and it happened within a span of 10-15 minutes…

Rohypnol (per Wikipedia):

The sedative effects of Rohypnol begin to appear approximately 15 to 20 minutes after the drug is ingested. The effects typically last from four to eight hours after administration of the drug, but some cases have been reported in which the effects were experienced for twelve or more hours after administration.

“Rohypnol can incapacitate victims and prevent them from resisting sexual assault. It can produce “anterograde amnesia,” which means that individuals may not remember events they experienced while under the effects of the drug.”…

Anonymous wrote:

…Two of our friends had come from Fort Greene– luckily the person who was not affected was there to get his girlfriend home, who found she could barely stand after she got on the G train. She threw up repeatedly for 24 hours. The rest of us had splitting headaches and have been unnaturally exhausted for two days…

GHB (per Wikipedia):

Common recreational doses of GHB are in the range of 1.8 to 2.7 grams, a large amount compared with most other sedative drugs, which can be active in amounts measured in milligrams. Doses required to induce complete sedation are even higher in most individuals. This makes detection of a drink tainted with GHB more likely and makes use of GHB to spike drinks considerably more difficult. Victims may not necessarily be “knocked out” by the drink but are often in a walking blackout and may or may not pass out.

It should also be noted that vomiting under the influence of GHB is not uncommon.

As it would happen I was at the Black Rabbit that evening. It was very busy. It would have been very, very easy for someone to spike drinks without the staff of the Black Rabbit (and they’re great folks all) without noticing. It also would have been very, very easy for someone to follow Anonymous and her friends from the bar and rob them. Fortunately, this did not happen.

Unfortunately GHB leaves the system very, very quickly. That’s why people choose to use it for nefarious purposes. My advice: if you experience symptoms like the ones described in this post PLEASE call the police (or have someone call them for you). Time is of the essence when it comes to detecting “date rape” drugs. The fact of the matter is no bar— even one as professional as the Black Rabbit —is immune from someone who wants to do bad things. Be careful. And if being careful doesn’t work, call 311 911 IMMEDIATELY.

Miss Heather

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6 Comments on Alarming Email From The NYS Inbox

  1. woodendesigner on Sun, 12th Oct 2008 11:44 pm
  2. That is totally messed up. I literally just heard something like this the other day but I can’t recall where. It was about how someone would slip the drug into random drinks in the hopes that one of these people would stumble out of the bar and pass out at which point they would be stripped of all their money and anything of value. If I can remember where I read it I’ll write back. Very freaky.

  3. d on Sun, 12th Oct 2008 11:52 pm
  4. I was at Jack O’Neill’s about a month ago and while I didn’t black out, I did get unusually drunk from only 2 beers, passed out on the couch when I got home, and the entire next day I had a splitting headache and couldn’t even keep water down until that evening. Nearly 24 hours from drink to starting to feel better. I chalked it up to maybe a bad batch of beer on tap. And something similar happened to me a few years back in a bar in Bay Ridge, only that time I became immediately ill and started nearly passing out right away – friends drove me home since I literally could not keep my eyes open. I chalked that up to contaminated drinks too as it was a quiet night at the bar and I didn’t recall having my drink out of my sight. It is freaky to think people could be spiking drinks and even now I’ve been taking it easy on the drinking cause no matter what it was that happened to me, it still really REALLY sucked.

  5. rowan on Mon, 13th Oct 2008 12:08 am
  6. Do you mean 311 or 911? That’s an awful thing – hopefully it doesn’t happen again and that the Black Rabbit is not negatively affected by this.

  7. eefers on Mon, 13th Oct 2008 4:04 pm
  8. It really sucks that you suspect this happens to you; it’s not the kind of thing you want to think about happening in your own neighborhood—especially a neighborhood as close-knit and friendly as Greenpoint. Perhaps there’s a creep-o trolling the area for unsuspecting people who leave their drinks unattended? Unfortunately, bartenders can’t do a background check on every person who enters their establishments—though I have seen Kent (the owner of Black Rabbit) keep an eye on and ask visibly threatening people (drunk guys who harass tables full of people during BINGO while keeping their jackets on, not buying drinks) to leave. And as a person who leaves her drink (and sometimes her bag) unattended at Black Rabbit (stupid, I know), I have a ridiculously hard time believing it was anybody who frequents the place. To be on the safe side, however, just know there’s no shame in being the girl who takes her drink to the bathroom.

  9. missheather on Mon, 13th Oct 2008 8:25 pm
  10. There is no reason the Black Rabbit (or Jack O’Neill’s for that matter) should have their business effected by this incident. If anything it proves they run class establishments. Class establishments = classy clientele. And MONEY– which is precisely what someone slipping mickeys to people and rolling them wants. They’re not going to pull this shit at a dive for the simple reason there is no money in it.

    We (as people and neighbors) just need to be very, very careful and watch out for each other.

  11. Dr. G on Tue, 14th Oct 2008 12:07 pm
  12. It seems that these people WERE watching their drinks. The problem may have been that the drinks were left at a staging area, where they were accessible to others while being prepared–a not uncommon bar arrangement. So it seems that one possible solution is to educate bar owners and their staff about the problem and about a “best practices” solution–keeping drinks inaccessible to clientele while they are being prepared and while they are waiting to be served.

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