Teenagers and young adults should be aware of the issue of drink spiking. A recent UK survey in Cambridge nightclubs found that a third of students had experienced their drinks being spiked.
The majority of reported drink spiking incidents are not linked to any additional crime and are most likely to be the result of a prank, but drink spiking can be linked to sexual assault and robbery. Whatever the intent, drink spiking is illegal and people who spike drinks can be charged, fined or jailed.
How to help prevent drink spiking
- Advise your teenager to party with trusted friends. Encourage them to discuss how they will watch out for each other while at the venue.
- Ideally, they shouldn’t accept any drinks from strangers. Tell them to buy their own drink and watch the bartender prepare it.
- If they wish to accept the offer of a drink from a someone they don’t know well, suggest they accompany the person to the bar and take the drink from the bartender themselves.
- Warn them to be especially wary if someone buys them a drink and it’s not the type of drink they requested.
- Tell them to never leave their drinks unattended and to ask a friend to watch over the drinks if they have to leave the table or, if they buy drinks that come in bottles with screw-top lids, they can carry the bottle in their bag when they go to the toilet or have a dance.
- If they think their drink might have been spiked, they should not consume it.
- If they see someone spike a drink or if they suspect that drink spiking may be occurring they should tell the manager or host immediately.
Symptoms of drink spiking
It may not be possible to tell if a drink has been spiked by smelling it or tasting it. The substances used to spike drinks are often colourless and odourless. The symptoms of drink spiking can depend on many factors such as the substance or mix of substances used, the dose, their size and weight, and how much alcohol they have already consumed. Symptoms may include feeling drunk, woozy or drowsy; feeling drunker than expected; mental confusion; hallucinations; speech difficulties such as slurring; memory loss; loss of inhibitions; nausea and vomiting; seizures; loss of consciousness; an unusually long hangover; or a severe hangover when they had little or no alcohol to drink.
- If a person becomes unwell after drinking a trusted friend or adult should take them to a safe area and stay with them, keep a close eye on their condition and call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates in any way. Always report suspected drink spiking, both to the venue (who may have CCTV) and police, or we can’t help stop the practice.