Drink Spiking Signs, Symptoms & How to Avoid it

Drink spiking is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to you on a night out, but what are the signs that your drink has been spiked and how can you avoid it?

It can be a scary experience and it’s important to be able to recognise the signs your drink has been spiked or how to help someone you suspect has been a victim.

What is drink spiking?

To spike a drink means to put alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission. Drink spiking can occur anywhere you can be served drinks including nightclubs, parties, pubs, restaurants and private homes.

An independent investigation conducted by The BBC found that between 2015-19 there were 2,650 reports of drink spiking in England and Wales. 72 percent of drink spiking victims were women and around 10 percent were under 18 years of age.

Why do people spike drinks?

A person’s drink can be spiked to make them more vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including theft, sexual assault or as an attempted joke.

Someone might not think it is as serious as it is and not even realise it is a crime. Someone may want to get revenge on a person if they feel they were rejected by them etc.

Often people don’t report drink spiking because they don’t remember details of the night or they feel embarrassed.

What are date rape drugs?

According to the NHS, alcohol is used more commonly than drugs to spike drinks. Shots of alcohol can be added to drinks to make them stronger. This causes someone to get drunk much quicker than expected.

Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs.

Both drugs can be used to commit physical and sexual assaults as they can sedate or incapacitate a victim, making them more vulnerable to attack.

‘Date-rape drugs’ can be odourless, colourless and tasteless. They also leave the body within a short amount of time making them hard to detect.

Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks.

Mixing alcohol and stimulants can be very dangerous and can cause serious problems, ranging from nausea to heart failure.

Symptoms of drink spiking

The symptoms can vary depending on what a drink has been spiked with, but they include:

  • – feeling drunk, woozy or drowsy
  • – feeling “out of it” or drunker than expected
  • – mental confusion
  • – speech difficulties (such as slurring)
  • – memory loss
  • – loss of inhibitions
  • – nausea and vomiting
  • – breathing problems.

What should you do if your drink has been spiked?

If you begin to feel drunk after having only a small amount or no alcohol, or you think
your drink may have been spiked, you should:

  • – Get help from a friend you trust, a relative or a senior member of staff if you are in a club or pub.
  • – Go to a place of safety as soon as possible; but only go home with someone you totally trust.
  • – If you are with people you do not know, contact a trusted friend or relative to come and take you home and look after you.

If you start to feel very sleepy, vomit or have hallucinations, you should visit your GP
or local Accident and Emergency Department immediately.

You should also contact the police as drink spiking is illegal. The police may ask for a sample of your blood or urine to test, to find out if drugs have been used.

It is important you are tested as soon as possible if you think your drink was spiked as most drugs leave your body within 12 – 72 hours.

What should you do if your friend has been spiked?

  • – Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff.
  • – Stay with them and keep talking to them.
  • – Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates.
  • – Don’t let them go home on their own.
  • – Don’t let them leave the venue with someone you don’t know or trust.

How to avoid getting your drink spiked

It is hard to tell if your drink has been spiked. The drugs are usually tasteless, odourless and have no colour so you would not usually know.

You should:

  • – not leave your drink unattended and keep an eye on friends’ drinks
  • – drink from a bottle rather than a glass if you can. It is more difficult to spike a drink in a bottle; keep your thumb over the opening.
  • – keep your drink in your hand at all times.
  • – never accept a drink from someone who you do not know or trust.
  • – not share, swap or drink any leftover drinks.
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