Better access needed for ‘date-rape drug’ testing: Quebec health minister

Mar 31, 2023

Earlier in March, Quebec’s health minister Christian Dubé announced that victims of date rape drugs need improved access to testing. “We must ensure that not only are the tests available in hospitals, but that they are available quickly,” said Dubé.

The announcement was made after several reports of being drugged were made by women in Montreal in recent weeks. Prior to Dubé’s announcement, the National Assembly passed a motion declaring the situation to be a crisis.

“We must ensure that not only are the tests available in hospitals, but that they are available quickly,” said Dubé.

According to emergency physician and toxicologist Dr. Guillaume Lacombe, the date rape drug gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) stays in the body for a few hours, but only two labs can run the tests to detect it in Quebec.

Furthermore, he added that the GHB test is not usually offered to patients because its results do not affect the treatment plan. “Is it to reassure the population? To put in place a legal process? Or just to take care of the patient?” Dr. Lacombe said in an interview with CBC News. “We need to make sure that the legal side of things, it’s taken care of because it might be possible that those tests won’t be amenable in court afterwards.”

In her interview with CBC News, Montreal singer-songwriter Ariane Brunet recounted her experience of being drugged at a concert in Montreal in May 2022. According to Brunet, she had a few drinks, and then her memory went blank. “The most traumatizing part is the part after, where you feel a lot of shame,” she said.

Moreover, Brunet’s friends later told her she was conversing normally for some time. Then, she told them she felt extremely ill and requested her friend to accompany her to the bathroom. “I couldn’t feel my whole body. I felt like I was drowning in the floor. All of my body was really, really heavy,” she said. “I remember the feeling of being trapped in my body at some point.”

Subsequently, Brunet’s friends called an ambulance for her. “I couldn’t control my body, but my mind was there sometimes,” Brunet said. Brunet repeatedly asked hospital staff to be tested for drugs, but her requests were denied by the medical staff. She also felt that hospital staff were laughing at her, judging her, and acting as though she was too drunk.

“I remember saying, ‘don’t laugh at me. I am a mom.’ I was justifying myself for being drugged, for being in that position,” Brunet said. “I just felt a lot of judgments.”

While Brunet wanted to fight back against her attacker, she has no test results to use as evidence that a crime was committed.

To date, the Quebec government has offered no details on how the testing plan will be rolled out.

 


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