Spiking – what to look for and how to stay safe

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Spiking is giving someone alcohol or drugs without their consent.

Spiking can be a scary and upsetting experience, but it isn’t something to feel guilty or ashamed about. Spiking is illegal and it is never the fault of the person who has been spiked.

This page will give you advice on avoiding being spiked, how to tell if someone has been spiked, and what to do in an emergency.

Understanding spiking  

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.

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. 

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

How to tell if 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.

What to do if someone has been spiked

If you think you have been spiked:

  • 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. 

If you think someone else has been spiked:

  • Try and stay as calm as possible. It can be distressing to see the signs and symptoms of someone else being spiked.
  • 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 999 and ask for an ambulance if they get worse.

How to protect yourself from spiking

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. 

Learn more about keeping yourself safe

You can find more of our advice for staying safe before, during and after a night out, by clicking on the links below.