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Spiked Drinks

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Every year there are thought to be hundreds of people’s drinks spiked by people hoping to incapacitate and take advantage of them. This is where alcohol or drugs are added to a person’s drink in order to take advantage of them in some way.

‘Spiking’ is when alcohol or drugs are added to someone’s drink without their knowledge. Whilst a large number of people do report this, it is believed that many more cases may go unreported, due to either memory loss or embarrassment.

There are many different reasons a drink may be spiked, from a ‘prank’ to an intended robbery or sexual assault.

Spiking a drink is illegal and the maximum sentence if found guilty is 10 years in prison. If a robbery or sexual assault has taken place, the sentence will be even higher.

What is used to spike a drink?

There are several methods used to spike a drink - the most common is adding alcohol to a non-alcoholic drink or adding extra to an alcoholic drink. However certain drugs can also be used - these are added to alcohol and act as a powerful sedative. They can cause the person to become ill, fall unconscious and, in extreme cases, it can even lead to death.

What are the signs?

Depending on whether a drug was used, the signs that someone has been ‘spiked’ can appear in as little as 15 minutes and can, potentially, last for several hours. A number of the symptoms are similar to the effects of alcohol and that make it difficult to know if someone has had their drink ‘spiked’ – however, the main difference is how severe the symptoms are. While alcohol can severely affect someone, it often takes numerous drinks before that occurs. Drugs, on the other hand, can start affecting someone within a few minutes.

If someone is displaying the below symptoms and you’re concerned about them, make sure you stay with them, get them any medical attention they need and ensure they get home safely.

There are a range of things to look out for, which include:

  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of ability to communicate properly
  • Paranoia
  • Poor coordination
  • Unconsciousness

What should you do if you think your drink has been spiked?

  • Tell the people you’re with and make sure you’re someone where you feel safe.
  • Alert a member of staff at the pub or club you are at. We’re currently rolling out a training programme to all bar staff, venue staff, door staff and taxi marshals in the city centre, to help them recognise when someone is vulnerable and provide them with appropriate support. We’re also working with McDonalds to help train their teams as well
  • If you feel unwell you should seek medical attention immediately and tell them that you believe your drink has been spiked.
  • Report it to the police as soon as possible. Drugs can leave the body in as little as 12 hours after consumption so it’s important you get tested quickly. We know that your memory can be affected by some of the drugs used to spike drinks, but we’ll need as much detail as possible to help us investigate. That might involve asking you to try and remember some of the below details:
  • Do you know who spiked your drink?
  • If you don’t know who spiked your drink, do you remember what they looked like, or any other details about them?
  • What happened throughout the evening, and after your drink was spiked?
  • Was anything taken from you?
  • Were you physically attacked?

How to protect your drink

While we’d love you to be able to fully enjoy your night out, unfortunately, there are some people who see your big night out as an opportunity to take advantage of you. It’s important to take a few steps to prevent your drink from being spiked:

  • Never leave your drink unattended – take it with you wherever you go and, if the club doesn’t allow drinks on the dancefloor, take time to finish your drink before you hit the dancefloor, rather than leaving it on a table for later.
  • If someone offers to buy you’re a drink, make sure you go to the bar with them and watch your drink the whole time. Don’t let them go to the bar on their own, as there are far too many opportunities for someone to interfere with your drink. Similarly, keep an eye out for people trying to distract you from your drink.
  • Wherever possible, have drinks from bottles – the necks make it more difficult to drop something into the bottle and you can also get ‘alcotops’ or ‘spikeys’ to fit bottles and protect your drink
  • Let someone know where you are going and what time they can expect you back – plan your route home in advance
  • If you are unsure about your drink, don’t drink it and tell a friend or member of staff. Don’t leave it on the side – either take it back to the bar or pour it away yourself.
  • Keep an eye on your friends and ensure you all get home safely

For more information visit:

www.nhs.uk/Livewell/abuse/Pages/drink-spiking.aspx