Sadly, the incidence of spiking is increasing at a concerning rate. One in nine women say that they have had their drinks spiked and one-third of women know somebody who has been spiked in the past.
Towards the end of 2021, as lockdown restrictions began to lift, reports of spiking in nightclubs peaked at an all-time high. Many of these reports involved drink spiking and needle spiking directed towards women in the UK.
What is Drink Spiking?
Drink spiking refers to when somebody adds substances to somebody else’s drink without their permission or knowledge. Usually, alcohol or drugs are used to spike drinks.
Date rape drugs include gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol, benzodiazepines, and ketamine. These drugs can be used in powder, tablet, or liquid form. These drugs are colourless and tasteless, meaning they’re almost undetectable when mixed into a drink.
Drink spiking is illegal and those who are caught will face the consequences. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to catch the perpetrators when they are in a bust nightclub. By the time somebody realises that they’ve been spiked or their friend has been spiked, it’s usually too late.
Signs That Somebody Has Been Spiked
Recognising the signs of spiking is important to getting help and potentially catching the attacker. The earlier you spot the signs, the more likely it is that the person who has spiked the drink is still close by.
Although the exact symptoms of spiking vary depending on the drugs used and the victim’s individual response to these drugs, there are some common things to look out for, such as:
- Slurred speech
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of balance
- Inability to stand up properly
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
Symptoms most commonly occur within 15-30 minutes of consuming the drugs and they can last for several hours.
How Can You Stop Your Drink From Being Spike?
There are lots of things that you can do to keep drink safe while you are on a night out.
Here are some top tips for women to stay safe and avoid being spiked.
Don’t Leave Your Drink Unattended
The number one rule when you’re on a night out is to never leave your drink unattended.
If you need to go to the toilet, take your drink with you. Of course, it’s not always possible to carry your drink into the toilet but don’t leave it on the table with your friends and assume that they are going to keep an eye on it. Instead, ask them to hold it while you are away.
Never leave your drink on a table unattended and avoid asking a group of strangers to keep an eye on it. Wherever possible, finish up your drink before you head to the toilet so you don’t have to worry about it being spiked.
Don’t Accept a Drink From Somebody You Don’t Know
You should never accept a drink from a stranger, especially if you didn’t see the drink being poured at the bar. The stranger may have put something into the drink in the hopes that you will accept it.
If possible, buy all of your own drinks so that you know exactly what’s in it.
Throw Away Your Drink if it Tastes Unusual
Sometimes, you forget about your drink and accidentally leave it unattended for a few minutes. If this happens, pay close attention to the look and taste of your drink when you go to take a sip.
If the drink has changed color, is fizzier than it should, or smells funny, don’t even take a sip. If you’ve already begun to drink your beverage, take note of any changes in the taste.
Any changes in the appearance or taste of your drink and may indicate that something has been added to your drink without you noticing. When this happens, you need to throw it away and get a new one at the bar.
Look Out for Your Friend’s Drinks
It’s also important to look out for your friends as well as yourself. When your friends are in the toilet, keep a close eye on their drinks until they return. Go to the bar with them and watch both of your drinks being poured.
If your friend is showing signs of being spiked, ask a security guard at the nightclub for help or escort your friend home. There is safety in numbers and looking out for one another can make all the difference to your safety.
Cover Your Drink
When you are holding your drink on the dance floor or sitting down with your friends, keep your drink covered whenever possible.
If you’re drinking from a bottle, you can easily hold your thumb over the hole to prevent any attackers from slipping something into the drink. If you’re drinking from a glass, it can be a little more difficult to keep it covered up, but you can use a coaster as a temporary lid when you’re sitting at a table.
You can also get the new Ashley Tipple Toppers (drink stoppers) that are specialised devices that can be placed on top of your bottles. Some bars, especially those on university campuses, provide bottle stoppers for free. Make sure to ask at the bar and see if you can get one to keep your drink safe.