Drink spiking can be malicious with the intent to hurt the victim through injury, or sexual assault. Some people also spike people’s drinks for fun as foolish jokes.
Drink spiking occurs when alcohol and/or another drug is placed in a person's drink without their knowledge. 1 Young women are common targets of drink spiking and the harms resulting include sexual assault, robbery and unsafe sex. 2
Alcohol is the most frequently used drug in drink spiking incidents. This can be giving a person a stronger drink by adding alcohol to their non-alcoholic drink, or adding extra to an alcoholic drink. However, a variety of other substances have also been identified. 2
Many of these substances are quickly absorbed after being consumed, resulting in rapid onset of the effects. Symptoms to look out for include: 2
The above list of signs can be related to someone who has been consuming a lot of alcohol. However, if alcohol and/or another drug has been added it will happen more quickly. This is further complicated by not knowing how much alcohol the affected person has consumed earlier.
If you or a friend suspects a drink has been spiked you are encouraged to report it to the Police. Reporting the incident within 24-hours means a urine sample can be analysed. A positive test confirms the drink spiking and provides good evidence for prosecution. Police will be interested in all the circumstances surrounding the drink spiking such as last drink and descriptions of persons-of-interest.
If you feel uncomfortable in the presence of the person you are with, leave their company and if you or your friends exhibit the above symptoms, including appearing intoxicated (loss of inhibitions, poor coordination, drowsiness, confusion or unconsciousness) after a small amount of alcohol, get to a safe place and seek help.
Take care of the affected person. If they are experiencing bad effects, call an ambulance immediately. Don’t delay, you could save their life. If the person becomes unconscious and you know First Aid, place them on their side in the recovery position and make sure their airway is clear. If they stop breathing, commence Expired Air Respiration (EAR). If a sexual assault is suspected contact the Sexual Assault Resource Centre.
1 Australian Drug Foundation. (2013). Fact Sheet: Drink Spiking. Retrieved from: http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/attachments/795_ADF_FactSheet_Spiking_Final_7May13.pdf
2 WA Police. Safety tips and advice. Drink spiking. Retrieved from: http://www.police.wa.gov.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=9E2LDK6XuHA%3D&tabid=1608
3 National Drug Strategy. (2004). National Project on Drink Spiking: Investigating the nature and extent of drink spiking in Australia.
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For emergencies call the 000 emergency line.