A couple years ago, patent attorney Mike Abramson ordered a drink at his friend’s birthday party at a bar in Boston. After his first few sips, he suddenly felt like he was on his 15th, not his first drink. And that’s all he remembers until morning.
Like millions of Americans each year, Abramson was slipped a date rape drug. Secretly poured into his drink, the potent intoxicants are scentless, tasteless, and colorless—in a word, invisible—putting victims into an amnesiac, blackout state. While flunitrazepam or "roofies" can be acquired via prescription, the saltier-tasting GHB can easily be made at home on the cheap, even if your level of chemistry knowledge doesn’t approach Breaking Bad status.
As most college freshmen are told, never sip a drink that leaves your line of sight. But, as every college freshmen remembers, that’s often unlikely, particularly as the night wears on.
So the challenge, as Abramson saw it, was coming up with a way for partygoers to effortlessly detect the presence of date rape drugs in their cocktails. His solution: a product line of straws, stirrers, cups, and glasses that display a red tinge after making contact with the chemicals. Now Abramson is raising $50,000 on Indiegogo to bring his new product line to market under the brand DrinkSavvy. A graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Abramson asked professor and chemist John MacDonald for help designing the drinkware.
While companies like Drink Safe Technologies now market detection strips for GHB and ketamine, drinkers have to pour out a drop of their beverage on the strip to test it out, which doesn’t provide the indiscreet and constant vigilance that’s needed, according to Abramson. You could test your drink out, spilling it over the bar and making a bit of a scene, only to get roofied a minute later without knowing it.
So far the project seems to be striking a nerve. A link to its drive on Indiegogo made its way to the homepage of Reddit, which led to hundreds of comments on the Indiegogo page, many simply saying "thanks."
Abramson’s goal is to hand out his products for free to rape crisis centers as well as convince bars, clubs, and colleges to make DrinkSavvy the new standard for safety. If all goes well, the products will be available in June 2013.