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Women are speaking up about bar safety after rise in drugging across the US

(NEW YORK) — Mia Mainville was at a Denver bar surrounded by friends when she said a stranger put drugs in her drink on New Year’s Eve.

“I was not able to focus on anybody, I was not able to have full control of my body,” Mainville told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Mainville said she was taken to the E.R. by ambulance where doctors told her that hospital toxicology tests are not able to detect certain illicit drugs, including some that are frequently used to spike drinks, and instead referred her to the Denver Police Department.

“The officer had told me that because I had told him I wasn’t assaulted, that there wasn’t a reason for them to file a report,” said Mainville.

Many date rape drugs, which are any type of drug used in a rape or a sexual assault, can make you feel drunk without consuming alcohol and can affect memory. Nearly 11 million women in the United States have been sexually assaulted while drunk or drugged, according to the Office on Women’s Health.

Mainville is not the only woman who is speaking out, several other women are claiming that police are not taking their cases seriously, according to reports from ABC affiliate KMGH-TV.

“I had about 70 women reach out to me telling me about the same thing had happened to them,” said Mainville.

Women like Colleen Mitchell, who said she believes she was drugged at a Denver bar in December.

“I contacted the police,” said Mitchell. “They told me that basically no crime has occurred since I made it home safe and that no assault occurred.”

Denver police told ABC News it has launched an internal investigation into how both Mainville and Mitchell’s cases were handled, adding, “If an individual believes they have consumed a substance that caused them to become unconscious… They should report the incident to the police.”

“There’s not an antidote for date rape drugs that is widely available to the public,” said Dr. Stephanie Widmer, an ABC News medical contributor and toxicologist. “So it’s really important to seek medical care right away, particularly if you don’t know what you’ve been exposed to.”

How to stay safer in social situations

According to the Office of Women’s Health, some ways to stay safe at places like bars or parties include:

  • Be aware of drinks in punchbowls or other containers that can be easily “spiked”
  • Don’t accept drinks from other people
  • Open your drink yourself
  • Don’t drink anything that smells strange
  • Don’t drink more than you want to
  • Get help right away and find a friend who can help you get to a safe place
  • Look out for your friends and ask them to look out for you

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