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Spiking: what to know and what to look out for

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Spiking is giving someone alcohol or drugs without their knowledge.

In most cases, being spiked involves someone adding something to your drink. This is usually a substance like a ‘date rape’ drug or alcohol. Spiking someone is illegal, but people who have been spiked often don’t report it. 

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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. Here are our tips and advice for keeping yourself and others safe, and what to do if you think someone has been spiked.  

How to tell if someone has been spiked 

It’s not always easy to spot the signs and symptoms of spiking because they’re similar to being very drunk. But it can be helpful to look out for the following: 

  • A sudden change in behavior (eg. Being okay then seeming extremely drunk very quickly) 
  • Difficulty speaking, like slurred speech 
  • Blurred vision and problems with balance and coordination 
  • Confusion/memory loss/blackouts 
  • Hallucinations & paranoia 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Passing out and not responding 

I think I have been spiked. What should I do?

 It can be difficult to recognise the symptoms, but if you do you should: 

  • Tell someone you trust and ask them to stay with you.  
  • If you are in a bar or club, tell a member of staff or security.  
  • If you feel in danger or unwell call 999. You can also text 999 if you’re registered for text support.  
  • If you feel able and comfortable to, make a report to the police as soon as possible. Some substances used for spiking can’t be detected after 72 hours or even 12 hours, so doing this as early as possible can help the police find out what has happened.  
  • If you’re concerned about sexual assault, services such as Rape Crisis provide support and advice to people who’ve experienced sexual assault and violence.  

I think my friend has been spiked. What should I do?  

It can be very distressing to see the signs and symptoms of a friend being spiked. Try to stay as calm as possible: 

  • Support them to a safe space and stay with them – call another friend to help if you can. 
  • If you are in a bar or club, tell a member of staff or security.  
  • Try to prevent your friend from drinking any more alcohol. 
  • Keep talking to your friend to reassure them. 
  • Don’t let them go home on their own, or with anyone they don’t know and trust. 
  • Call an ambulance if they get worse. 

Can you tell that a drink has been spiked?  

It can be very difficult to tell that a drink has been spiked. Spiking often involves someone adding a drug to your drink, but it can also mean someone adding alcohol to your drink. This can be very hard to spot. 

If you notice any changes to the appearance or taste of your drink, pour it away. If you’re in a bar or club tell staff or security right away. Whilst many reports of ‘spiking’ include the use of substances (for example GHB/Rohypnol/Ketamine), ‘spiking’ can also be the process of using alcohol to intentionally intoxicate someone, which can also be difficult to recognise.  

How can I help prevent being spiked?  

Spiking should not happen and having a drink spiked is never your fault. Here are some things you and your friends can do to try and keep yourself safe from spiking:  

  • ‘Spikeys’ or bottle-stops are devices that help protect your drink and make it harder for someone to add something. 

  • Don’t accept drinks from someone you don’t know. 

  • Don’t leave your drinks unattended.  

  • If you see someone acting unusually or trying to add something to someone’s drink, report them immediately.  


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