A bar in Rouyn-Noranda is sounding the alarm about the dangers of the date rape drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, after three women ended up in hospital after a Halloween party Friday night.
"It is a phenomenon that worries us," said Véronique Aubin, a spokesperson for Cabaret de la Dernière Chance, where the alleged incidents took place.
"It only takes a second for someone to put something in a drink, so if that happens we need to know how to act," she said.
Aubin say it's important people learn to be "active witnesses," by intervening if they think someone has been drugged, and that it's crucial any potential victim is taken to hospital as soon as possible.
Following the alleged incidents, the bar put up a post on its Facebook page, asking anyone who believes they spot someone who might have been drugged to keep that person in sight, let the bar staff know and accompany the person to the hospital.
Aubin said it has been very difficult to say exactly what happened or to identify an alleged culprit because everyone at the bar was in a Halloween costume, and it could take weeks for blood test results to come back confirming the women were drugged with GHB.
Not just women at risk
Mélanie St-Pierre, a social worker at a local sexual assault prevention centre in Rouyn-Noranda, said it's significant that Cabaret de la Dernière Chance is denouncing GHB use and speaking out against those who may be drugging people against their will.
She said GHB is extremely prevalent in Rouyn-Noranda, as it is in other regions, especially so because it is becoming an increasingly popular recreational drug.
"We've had this problem forever," she said.
St-Pierre said it's not just women who are at risk of being drugged because some people lace drinks in order to rob bar-goers of any gender.
"What we want you to understand is that it's important to do something," said St-Pierre."Take action."
She said it's important that people feel bar staff and other patrons are looking out for them so they can be safe when they go out — and even more important to stay vigilant, as the holiday season approaches.