Drink spiking is when someone puts drugs or alcohol into your drink without you knowing. Evidence shows that alcohol is one of the most commonly used drugs in these situations in Europe..
Drugs can come in powder or liquid form. They may not have an unusual taste or smell.
There are many reasons why someone might spike a drink.
The most common reasons are:
- to carry out a sexual assault or rape
- to carry out a physical assault
- to carry out a theft
- for amusement
Drink spiking does not only target females. Anyone can be targeted.
Drink spiking is a crime whatever the reason it is carried out for.
'Date rape drugs'
Some drugs are termed as 'Date rape drugs' for their use in assalts. Thney are generally depressant type drugs and work by slowing down your nervous system and dulling your responses. They make it harder for you to resist an assault.
Some depressants are legally prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. But when taken without knowing, these drugs leave you vulnerable to danger.
Date rape drugs will affect your behaviour and the messages that you give out to other people. You will not be fully in control of yourself and someone could take advantage of you.
Date rape drugs can start to take effect within 5 minutes of being taken, or up to an hour afterwards.
Symptoms of drink spiking
Most date rape drugs take effect within 30 minutes, and symptoms usually last for several hours.
But if you pass out, it'll be hard to know the full effect. You may still feel some of the symptoms of a date rape drug after a night's sleep.
Although your symptoms will depend on which substance has been used, they usually include some of the following:
- lowered inhibitions
- difficulty concentrating or speaking
- loss of balance and finding it hard to move
- visual problems, particularly blurred vision
- memory loss (amnesia) or 'blackouts'
- feeling confused or disorientated, particularly after waking up (if you have been asleep)
- paranoia (a feeling of fear or distrust of others)
- hallucinations (seeing, hearing or touching things that are not there) or having an 'out of body' experience
- nausea and vomiting
How to avoid drink spiking
If your drink has been spiked, it's unlikely that you'll see, smell or taste any difference. Some drugs, such as GHB, may taste slightly salty or smell unusual.
If you start to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, get help immediately.
The following steps may help prevent drink spiking:
- Never leave your drink unattended, and keep an eye on your friends' drinks.
- Do not accept a drink from someone you do not know.
- Consider sticking to bottled drinks and avoiding punch bowls or jugs of cocktails.
- Don't give out your address to someone you have just met.
- If you think your drink's been tampered with, do not drink it – tell a trusted friend or relative immediately.
- Before going out, let someone know where you're going and what time you expect to be home.
- Make plans for your journey home.
- Avoid taking expensive equipment with you or anything that could be a target for thieves.
- If you're travelling abroad, be aware of the local area and where you can find help.
What to do if your drinks been spiked
First, tell someone you completely trust, such as:
- a close friend
- a relative
- a medical professional
- the police
If you are not with anyone, call someone you trust and get to a safe place. Ask to use a phone if yours has been stolen.
If you need urgent help, call 999. Be wary of accepting help from a stranger and do not leave with someone you do not know.
If you feel unwell, someone you trust should take you to your nearest emergency department (ED). Tell the medical staff that you think your drink's been spiked.
Arrange for a trusted friend or relative to take you home and stay with you until the drugs have fully left your system.
Report it to the police as soon as you can. They may ask you to provide blood and urine samples.
Most drugs leave the body within 72 hours of being taken. The drug GHB leaves the body within 12 hours, so it's important to be tested as soon as possible.
If you're abroad, get help from a travel representative or local medical services, or ask a bar or hotel manager to call local police.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you should get medical attention as soon as possible.
You may need tests to determine if you have any sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or if you're pregnant.
- Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 24 hour helpline 1800 77 8888
- Sexual Assault Treatment Units
- Rape Crisis Network Ireland