What is spiking?
The most common form of spiking is by adding alcohol to a non-alcoholic drink or adding extra to an alcoholic drink. However certain drugs can also be used – added to alcohol and act as a powerful sedative.
Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs. Both drugs can be used to commit physical and sexual assaults as they can sedate or incapacitate a victim, making them more vulnerable to attack.
Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks. Mixing alcohol and stimulants can be very dangerous and can cause serious problems, ranging from nausea to heart failure.
Safety tips to consider
Spiking is a crime. At the University of Sussex we strongly believe that responsibility for spiking lies solely with those who conduct it.
Change, Grow, Live explain, ‘Being spiked isn’t something to feel guilty or ashamed about. The experience can be scary and affect your physical and mental health, but it is never your fault. Spiking often happens in bars and clubs, but it can happen in other places too, like parties and other social events. Everyone should feel safe to enjoy themselves without worrying about being spiked.’
There are a few steps that could reduce the chances of experiencing spiking. We understand that students also have some concern at the possibility that people are being ‘spiked’ by needles/syringes containing drugs. Although this is much less likely than drink spiking, many of the same tips for staying safe could be useful here too.
- Plan your night out, including your journey there and back.
- Make sure the venue you are going to is licensed – venues are required to take steps to ensure the safety of their customers
- When going to a pub, club or party avoid going alone. Friends can look out for one another
- Make sure your mobile phone has plenty of charge in it before you leave home and keep your mobile safe
- Never leave your drink unattended
- Always buy your own drink and watch it being poured.
- Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know
- Don't drink or taste anyone else's drink
- Throw your drink away if you think it tastes odd
Recognising a spiked drink - A drink might have been spiked if:
- There are excessive bubbles
- It is cloudy
- It tastes strange or different (especially if it’s unusually bitter or salty, don’t finish it)
- The colour has changed (if it’s lighter, darker or even blue, pour it out immediately)
- It looks like it has been mixed
- The ice sinks
Symptoms usually take effect within 15-30 minutes, lasting for several hours. If you, or one of your friends, has any of the following symptoms, you/they might have been spiked:
- Feeling that any drinks consumed have had more of an effect than they should have
- Feeling dizzy, faint or confused
- Passing out, nausea or vomiting
- Feeling sleepy or unwell
- Impaired vision or speech
- Feel a sharp or sudden pain (check the affected area for an injection site)