How you can tell if your drink has been spiked – and what to do
Research shows that one in 25 drinks in UK clubs are spiked
If you type ‘drink spiking’ into Google it will come up with a whole load of articles saying there’s a drink spiking epidemic in the UK at the moment.
Research has shown that 1 in 25 drinks in UK clubs are spiked, and in 2013 the government estimated the 85,000 women had had their drinks spiked in a club or bar. That’s an incredibly high proportion, especially seeing as nowadays this is a prosecutable offence.
It is incredibly hard to tell if your drink has been spiked, and this leaves people open to risk as often the symptoms can be put down to drinking too much. Mixing sedatives with alcohol creates a ‘very powerful anaesthetic’ and can lead to a coma or, in the worst case scenario, death, according to the NHS.
I recently had an experience on a night where I’m not sure if my drink was spiked, or if I just drank too much. Either way, the change in how I felt was sudden and actually very scary. It prompted me to look into how you can avoid this, and what you can actually do in this situation if you’re not around people you trust.
We’ve put together some ways of recognising the signs of spiking on a night out with some coping strategies so that you know how to help yourself:
How you can avoid it
If your drink has been spiked with alcohol then it can be fairly easy to tell, as the drink tastes different. However, a drink spike with a date rape drug, such as Rohypnol, is very hard to detect.
The NHS choices website provides some advice on how to avoid this. There are some obvious tips, like not leaving your drink unattended, and not taking drinks from strangers, but some of the other tips may help too:
How to tell if your drink has been spiked
According to the NHS many date rape drugs take between 15-30 minutes to take effect.
After this, symptoms may include: lowered inhibitions, problems with speech, vision or movement, confusion, paranoia, memory loss or even hallucinations. There are also testing kits that will tell you if your drink has been spiked, but lets be real who is going to take them out with them?
Unfortunately, most of these are also symptoms of being drunk, but most people know their limits and can sense when something has gone wrong. So experiencing any of these to a heightened level is a clear indicator that you’ve been drugged.
There is also a nail varnish being released which can detect the presence of drugs in your drink.
What to do if you think you’ve been spiked
Obviously, tell someone. If you’re not with friends, find someone who works at the club/bar, don’t tell a stranger.
If its a real emergency, calling 999 and going to A&E is also a good idea. Most drugs leave your system within 72 hours, so getting help at the time could really help you in the long run.
There’s not much else you can do, apart from getting someone to help. being alone is really not a good idea, as this makes you a lot more vulnerable. Bouncers may look scary and mean, but they will help you.
You might think this is all really obvious, but on many occasions the nice guy that bought you the drink and offers to help you get home is the one that spiked your drink in the first place.
Drink spiking is a scary and very dangerous thing to happen to someone, and in reality should not be happening at all. Its hard to detect, and to prosecute, so unfortunately its up to the individual to try and look after themselves, and to know the signs.
Related stories recommended by this writer:
● A month into first year, a stranger put drugs in my drink at pre-drinks
● How to tell if your drink was spiked or if you’re just drunk
● This girl says she tried to take a cute selfie and accidentally filmed a man trying to drug her friend – but Twitter is skeptical
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