What is drink spiking and how do you avoid it?

We hear a lot about alcohol-related violence in the media, but very little time is spent on another important alcohol issue: drink spiking. Drink spiking occurs when a mind-altering drug is added to somebody’s drink without his or her knowledge. The most commonly used drink spiking drugs are GHB and rohypnol. You may know them as “date rape drugs”.

There are a number of reasons why somebody would spike your drink. It could be a simple prank, merely for someone’s amusement, but more serious motives include theft, sexual assault and even rape. It’s a mistake to think that drink spiking only affects women, because more and more men have come forward as victims too.

The symptoms of drinking spiking can vary, depending on the drug that was used and the amount of alcohol the victim has consumed. Victims often feel dizzy or nauseated and they may also lose consciousness.

A lot of people wrongly assume that only alcoholic drinks get spiked, but soft drinks get spiked too. It’s important to keep this in mind while you’re out and about.

If you’re out for the night and you want to make sure nobody tampers with your drink, you can take simple preventative measures. Most importantly, never accept a drink from a stranger. If they want to buy you a drink, make sure it’s being poured by the bartender and given directly to you. It’s also important to never leave your drink unattended at a club, bar or party. If you need to visit the toilet or go outside, take it with you. Many people appoint a friend to be their drink watcher, and mates who look out for each other stand a far lower chance of becoming victims of drink spiking. If you notice your drink has been topped up, moved or it tastes odd, throw it out. It’s much safer to order a replacement.

If you think you have been the victim of drink spiking, the worst thing you can do is to be alone, where someone may take advantage of your drug-addled state. Find your friends and tell them something is wrong. If you’re out alone, find someone in authority who can keep you safe, like security staff or a club manager. Ensure you get medical attention, because you never know how the drugs may affect you.

Drink spiking is too common in today’s culture, and one of the main ways to tackle this growing problem is to catch the perpetrators. But this is nearly impossible if attacks are not reported to police. If you think you’ve been the victim of drink spiking, report it as soon as possible. Time is of the essence, because most common date rape drugs don’t show up in tests after 24 hours.

And remember: if you get your drink spiked, it’s not your fault. The blame always lies with the perpetrator.