Spiking: Knowing the signs and how to stay safe

Across the UK, spiking is becoming increasingly more common, so I would like to spread awareness on what it is, safety tips, signs you may have been spiked, and what to do if you have been spiked.

This post may contain mature or challenging content.

Spiking: Knowing the signs and how to stay safe

The act of spiking is described as putting drugs or alcohol into someone’s body through injections, in their drink, or anything they may ingest without their knowledge of it or consent to do so. Different types of spiking include alcohol, date rape drugs such as GHB, illegal ‘party’ drugs such as cocaine, ketamine, and ecstasy, and prescription drugs, for example, sedatives, tranquilizers, stimulants, and opiates, that can be added to a person’s alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. Spikers may also add shots of alcohol to drinks in order to make it stronger, with the intention of getting their target drunk a lot faster; spikers that use drugs may use a specific drug for a specific effect, for example, to make you unable to walk properly or have an understanding of what is going on in your surroundings. It is important to note that some drugs used can cause more than one of these effects. 

Rohypnol (Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known types of date rape drugs. Both drugs sedate or incapacitate the victim, thus making them more vulnerable to attackers. Individuals that are spiked with date rape drugs are unlikely to smell, see, or taste any difference in their drinks. Most take between 15 and 30 minutes to cause any effect, which can last several hours. 

Where/when does this happen most?

The most common venues for spiking include nightclubs and other nightlife spaces but are not exclusive to these and can happen anywhere at any time.

Who is a potential spiker?

It is important to remember that anyone can be a spiker. In 2021, YouGov research showed that 1 in 9 women have been a victim of drink spiking. Although spiking is illegal in the UK, only 1 in 12 people report it to the police, meaning that many spikers get away with it. Victims of drink spiking may not report it as they may feel they will not be taken seriously, or they may not remember what happened. 

Why do people spike others?

Spikers may have several motives for spiking someone’s drink, but one of the most common is so that they can sexually assault/rape that individual. Other known motives can include kidnapping, trafficking, anger, personal vendettas, robbery, and personal entertainment. Spiking is illegal in the UK, and an individual can receive up to 10 years in prison for spiking alone, however, if they have committed other crimes simultaneously then they may be imprisoned for a lot longer. Spiking can have serious negative effects on a person’s health and in some cases, people have died. Despite women being the more common target for spikers, men are not exempt from these types of attacks. 

Safety tips

Although it is not guaranteed that you or your drink will ever be spiked, in order to be as safe as possible, here are some safety tips:

  • Don’t leave your drink unattended. If you absolutely must, for example, if you need to go to the toilet, leave your drink with someone you can trust, and failing that, leave it and get a new one when you return. I know drinks can get expensive, but it is not worth risking being spiked. 

  • Don’t take drinks from strangers. I know free drinks can sometimes be harmless, but you wouldn’t take free sweets from a stranger, so keep that mentality going on this one. 

  • Watch your drinks. A member of staff can just as easily be a spiker, so watch your drinks when they are poured, and put your hand over the top of it to pick it up from the bar to avoid anyone trying to slip anything in at the last minute. 

  • Make sure someone you trust knows where you are. If you’re meeting someone new, perhaps for a date or even someone you don’t know very well, it is important to tell someone you trust, where you’re going, who you’re meeting, and the times you plan to meet and return home. 

  • Never let a stranger walk you home. This one is crucial if you’re not feeling well as this could be because they have already spiked you. Ask someone you trust to bring you home instead, especially if you start to feel dizzy or very drunk when you have not consumed much alcohol. 

  • Stay with someone you trust. If you have gone on a night out with your friends, as tempting as it may be to some to wander off on your own, please stay with your friends as spikers may think of someone on their own as an easier target.

Signs you may have been spiked

Depending on what you have been spiked with, and the way you have been spiked, via your drink or injection, side effects vary. Your symptoms may include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Issues with your eyesight, for example, blurred vision

  • Loss of balance

  • Confusion

  • Gaps in your memory (the following day)

  • Feeling very sleepy

  • Lowered inhibitions

If you think you or someone you know has been spiked, please seek urgent medical attention.

What to do if you or someone you know gets spiked

  • If it is not you that has been spiked, stay with the individual that has and keep talking to them

  • Call an ambulance

  • Alert the staff and owner/s of the establishment

  • Contact the police as soon as possible

  • Ensure they get home safely with yourself or a trusted person

Header Image Credit: ELEVATE / Pexels

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