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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 recognise the signs your drink has been spiked or how to help someone you suspect has been a victim.
Symptoms of drink spiking
If your drink has been spiked it's unlikely that you will see, smell or taste any difference. Most date rape drugs take effect within 15-30 minutes and symptoms usually last for several hours. If you start to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, then get help straight away.
What to do if you think a friend has been spiked:
- Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff
- Stay with them and keep talking to them
- Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates
- Don’t let them go home on their own
- Don’t let them leave the venue with someone you don’t know or trust
- If possible, try and prevent them drinking more alcohol as this could lead to more serious problems
What to do if you think you have been spiked:
- If you’re on your own, call someone you trust or dial 999 if you need urgent help. If you suspect drink spiking, ask to be taken to the nearest Accident and Emergency department.
- Tell the medical staff you think you’ve been spiked. Urine and blood tests carried out in the first 24-72 hours are most likely to detect traces of date rape drugs.
What to do if you’ve been assaulted
It’s important that if you suspect you’ve been physically or sexually assaulted you should tell someone. Try to confide in someone you trust like a friend or family member. You can go to the police, local GP surgery or hospital. If you don’t feel able to do that right away you can call the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre on 0808 802 9999 (12–2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day).
If you, or someone you know, have been affected by sexual harassment or any sort of sexual harm, help and support is available. Victim Support is an independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime. They offer free, confidential help to anyone who’s been affected by sexual harassment. Call 08 08 16 89 111 or go to Victim Support's website.
Spiking someone’s drink is a serious offence
Spiking someone’s drink carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence. Adding a few extra shots to a friend’s drink may seem like a harmless bit of fun but not only could it ruin a good night out it could also result in serious criminal charges.
Assault, rape or robbery carry additional sentences. Sex with someone without gaining the victim’s consent is also a crime. Visit Drinkaware.co.uk for more information.