Boston woman, ER doctor share obstacles of proving spiked drink claims

BOSTON — Claims about spiked drinks at bars and clubs in Boston are under the microscope this year, and those who believe they’ve been victimized are sharing similar stories in their quest for answers.

Boston 25 News has been in touch with more than a dozen people who believe their drinks were drugged at establishments in the Boston area this year.

About half of those people said they went to local emergency rooms but were not able to prove they had consumed date-rate drugs.

Boston native Sarah Solomon is among more than 80 people who have filed spiked drink reports with the Boston Police Department this year.

The 40-year-old recalls ordering two vodka sodas at the Roadrunner music venue in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood back in June.

“The last thing I remember, I was feeling fine and having conversations with my friends,” said Solomon. “Then it was basically like a light went off.”

She said the dramatic shift in how she felt leaves her with no question that she had consumed a date rape drug.

“It’s not the kind of thing where we were taking shots and at a bar and someone was passing us drinks,” she explained. “It was never out of my sight, and it was in my hand the whole time.”

Solomon said she was chilled by what could have happened if her friend hadn’t been there to get her home safely.

She went to Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital early the next morning and told doctors that she believed she had been drugged.

Tests came back negative for a list of substances. However, Solomon was surprised to see that some of the most common date-rape drugs, like GHB and Rohypnol, were not included in the toxicology panel.

“I asked if there was a more detailed test they could give. They said that there was a really intensive blood test, and if you come into the ER unconscious they’d run it,” she said.

Boston 25 News spoke with Doctor Matthew Mostofi who serves as Associate Chair of Emergency Medicine at Tufts Medical Center.

He said treating patients who believe they’ve been drugged is a top priority but determining what substance may have been involved is tricky.

“In order to look for something, you need to at least have an idea, you have to actually specifically test for that, the test has to be available, and then the staff and the expertise to run the test need to be available,” explained Dr. Mostofi.

Doctor Mostofi said some of the tasteless drugs that leave people disoriented and disinhibited metabolize quickly in the body.

He said those drugs often don’t show up in extensive screenings unless they’re tested for right away.

“It may only be in your system for two to six to eight hours. 12 hours or 24 hours later, it’s not even there anymore,” he added. “By the time you’re trying to investigate, the opportunity to investigate was missed.”

Boston 25 News reached out to more than 30 cities and towns in Massachusetts to see if they’re seeing the same trend.

Barnstable said it had four spiked drink reports this year.

Salem had three, Somerville had three and Cambridge had one.

Solomon said she’s talked with others who believe their drinks were spiked over the last few months.

Through her conversations on the topic, she points out that many are too scared or ashamed to file official police reports.

In her case, police reviewed surveillance footage from the Roadrunner and said they didn’t find any evidence of a crime.

“It’s very rare that you have something happen to you and you’re basically on camera the entire time,” she said. “It is really frustrating that someone could basically assault me through my drink, and I have no idea who it was.”

None of the popular bars, clubs, or music venues that Boston 25 News reached out to wanted to be interviewed.

Some are making drink covers available to patrons by posting signs, reminding people to protect their drinks, and alerting staff if something feels off.

Boston 25 News received the following statement from a spokesperson for the Roadrunner.

“We are aware of the ongoing reports of these incidents occurring throughout the Boston area. We have introduced plans at our venues to ensure all of our staff are equipped with up-to-date tools when it comes to the safety of the audience. We are rolling out awareness training for our bartenders, security, and staff, and implementing new protocols including readily-available drink tops for all who request them. We are also fully cooperating with any police investigations, including but not limited to providing relevant security footage from our venues when requested by law enforcement. Our commitment to our guests’ safety and security as they enjoy a night out remains our highest priority.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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