Drinks spiked with alcohol or drugs can make a person vulnerable. Always keep an eye on your drink to make it more difficult for someone to spike it and make sure you recognize the symptoms of drink spiking so that you can act quickly to help a victim of this crime.
What is drink spiking?
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.
Because there are no official statistics it’s difficult to know the true extent of the crime. Often people don’t report drink spiking because they don’t remember details of the night or they feel embarrassed.
It can be a scary experience and it’s important to be able to recognize the signs your drink has been spiked or how to help someone you suspect has been a victim.
Steps to avoid spiked drinks:
1) Stay with the drink service. If you are offered a drink by somebody you have only just met or barely know, stay at the bar as the drink is ordered and served. You will be able to see the bartender make it and hand it across the bar. Or, request that drinks be brought to the table by staff.
2) Prefer unopened bottled drinks or cans over glass drinks. If you are not with people you can trust, have your drink from a bottle and watch the top being removed by the bartender.
3) Hold your drink on the top. If you get a glass drink, hold it in such a way that your hand covers the top of the glass. Holding it with your palm over the top instead of against the side of the drink will make it harder for anyone to slip anything in without you noticing.
4) Always keep an eye on your drink. Do not leave your drink unattended for any time. Give it to a friend to guard or finish it off before racing off to dance or visit the bathroom. If you have to leave it and you return uncertain as to its safety, leave it and get a new one.
5) Accept drinks only from people you trust. If you cannot keep an eye on the serving of your drink, or you have any misgivings about the person offering you a drink, it is best to politely decline. If you are having drinks with friends, you will usually be fine; and ask them to keep an eye on you if you do go off with anyone unknown during the night so that if anything untoward does happen, someone else will be onto it straight away.
6) Avoid sharing other people’s drinks. This could be a ruse to lull you into a false sense of security. Never grab a drink or steal one from someone you don’t know; you never know what is in their drinks and just because they can handle it doesn’t mean you can.
7) Look for obvious signs of tampering. Things such as your drink being moved from where you left it, the straw having been taken out or one put in, less or more liquid than you remember, odd bubbling or fizzing, a different color or odor, floaters of any kind, empty medicinal packets next to the glass or on the floor, etc.
8) Cease drinking anything that tastes funny. When you drink something that tastes off or unusual, stop right there and have no more. Immediately presume that the situation has become unsafe and either leave as soon as possible, or grab a friend to stay with or, better yet, leave together.
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 let’s 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.