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Drink spiking

Drink spiking is when alcohol or drugs are added to your drink without you knowing. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be spiked.

Danger signIt can happen at clubs, bars and at parties.

The effects of drink spiking depend on a number of things, including your size, weight and the amount or combination of the drugs used.

You can become unconscious and unable to defend yourself, or unable to remember what happened.

People can  spike your drink as a prank, or with the intent to assault, rob or sexually assault you. So, it’s something you have to be really careful to avoid.

It’s illegal for someone to spike your drink.

The repercussions are really serious, particularly if the person is assaulted as a result.

What drugs are used in spiking?

Alcohol

Alcohol is the most common drug used in drink spiking.

It may be done either by having alcohol added to non-alcoholic drinks or adding shots of spirits to alcoholic drinks to make your drink much stronger than you realise.

Don’t assume you can always taste the alcohol in your drinks.

If your drink is sweet or has strong flavours the taste of alcohol can be masked.

Depressant drugs

Depressant drugs, especially sedatives, can be used to spike drinks. These drugs are usually used to relax the body or help people sleep.

Combined with alcohol they can have very strong effects.

This may result in you feeling very drunk and unable to remember some or all events that took place after you were drugged.

The drug’s effects can start within 15 to 30 minutes, and can last up to eight hours or longer. This depends on the amount used and how much alcohol you have drunk.

Effects of depressant drugs mixed with alcohol:

  • feeling sleepy
  • dizzy or drowsy
  • loss of motor skills
  • muscle relaxation
  • slurred speech
  • memory loss
  • impaired judgment
  • loss of inhibition
  • loss of consciousness
  • visual problems
  • nausea.

Rohypnol

Rohypnol is an expensive drug intended for use in treating sleep disorders, such as insomnia.

The effects are similar to valium, but ten times the strength.

Rohypnol is sold on prescription in bubble packs of one or two mg doses (usually in the form of white tablets with the word ROCHE written across).

It has been slipped into drinks to cause a sedative effect, earning a reputation as “the date rape drug”.

Rohypnol takes effect within 20 to 30 minutes of administration and lasts up to eight hours.

It acts as a sedative by inducing amnesia, relaxing the muscles, and slowing down psychomotor responses.

GHB

Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) can cause amnesia, impair movement and speech, and can be added to drinks with no visible trace.

GHB is also known as ‘fantasy’, ‘grievous bodily harm’ (GBH), liquid ecstasy and ‘liquid E’.

It comes as a colourless, odourless, bitter or salty-tasting liquid, or as a crystal powder. GHB has been used medically as a general anaesthetic and to treat sleep disorders.

The effects of GHB include hallucinations, extreme drowsiness, vomiting, convulsions or seizures, and unconsciousness or abrupt short-term coma.

GHB is a dangerous drug in itself. Mixed with alcohol, the harmful effects are stronger.

How do I know if my drink has been spiked?

Unfortunately you might not be able to see, smell or taste if your drink has been spiked.

The drug may be colourless, odourless and may not affect the taste of your drink.

Warning signs include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • feeling sick or sleepy
  • feeling really drunk or confused even if you have only had a little alcohol to drink
  • passing out
  • waking up feeling uncomfortable and disorientated, with memory blanks about the night before.

What you should do

If you think your drink has been spiked, tell a friend, the bar or security staff, or the police.

Your doctor can test for the presence of traces of certain drugs through urine or blood tests within 24 hours.

If you think you’ve been assaulted or raped, tell a friend or family member, and go to a doctor or hospital.

How to avoid drink spiking

  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended. If someone offers you a drink, go to the bar with them.
  • Buy your own drinks and know what you’re drinking.
  • Don’t drink something you didn’t open, or see opened or poured.
  • If you’re unsure about your drink, leave it.
  • If you feel dizzy or sick, ask someone you trust to take you to a safe place. If you’re alone or can’t find your friends tell the staff behind the bar.
  • Keep an eye on your friends. If someone collapses and is unconscious, call an ambulance immediately. Don’t leave them alone.
  • If you’re on a date with someone you don’t know, arrange for a friend to call you during the evening and/or pick you up. Meet in a public space. Arrange your own transport.

For more information about the effects of mixing drugs and alcohol, or if you’re worried about something related to either, check alcohol for some useful links or check with Rape Crisis Help.

This article was last reviewed on 03 May 2017

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