'Drink Spiking' is a real problem. Whether you know it or not, you're probably only one friend removed from somebody who has been a victim, and it is not difficult to see why. Every year, worldwide, thousands of people are thought to be victims of drink spiking, where drugs or alcohol are added to someone's drink without them knowing. In some cases, so called date rape drugs are used to spike a drink before a sexual assault. Many more incidents happen on holiday or go unreported due to embarrassment or memory loss.
What are 'date rape drugs'?
The drugs used in drink spiking are often referred to as "date rape drugs", although they are not always used for sexual assault. Date rape drugs may come in powder, tablet or liquid form, and do not always have an unusual taste or smell.
Some examples of drugs that have reportedly been used for drink spiking include: GHB, Ketamine and Rohypnol (rarely used now since the addition of blue dye).
TODAYS COMMON DATE RAPE DRUGS
GHB (gammahydroxybutrate): LIQUID ECSTASY, GEEBS, GBL, GBH, 4-BD, 1 : Salty-tasting clear fluid or white powder that is easy to make at home. Acts as a muscle relaxant and causes short-term amnesia when taken with alcohol. It produces a feeling of euphoria, reduce inhibitions and drowsiness. The effects start after about 10 minutes to an hour and can last for up to seven hours or so. Because GHB can really knock you out, it has been linked to drug assisted sexual assaults.
KETAMINE : VITAMIN K, SUPER K, SPECIAL K, K, GREEN, DONKEY DUST : A white powder that is mostly used on animals. It can cause a catatonic state and short-term amnesia. The effects do not last long, but until they wear off, ketamine can cause a loss of feeling in the body and paralysis of the muscles. It can also lead to you experiencing a distortion of reality/ hallucinating.You can 'trip' for between half an hour to several hours, and the after-effects may be felt for some hours afterwards.
How to avoid drink spiking
If your drink has been spiked it's unlikely that you will see, smell or taste any difference. Some drugs, such as GHB, may taste slightly salty or smell unusual. If you start to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, get help immediately.
Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol, especially in unfamiliar situations. You could lose control, make risky decisions and become less aware of danger.
The following steps may also help prevent drink spiking:
- Don't go out drinking alone. Go out with your friends and watch out for one another - perhaps appoint a drinks watcher. Never leave your drinks unattended. It's safer to not accept a drink from someone you don't know.
- Consider sticking to bottled drinks and avoiding punch bowls or jugs of cocktails
- Don't give out your address to someone you've just met
- If you think your drink has been tampered with, don't drink it - tell a trusted friend or relative immediately
- Before going out, let someone know where you're going and what time you expect to be home
- Make plans for your journey home, if possible at the beginning of your evening.
- Avoid taking expensive equipment with you or anything that could be a target for thieves
- If you are traveling abroad, be aware of the local area and where you can find help. Don't forget that drink spiking or date rape is a global problem. It would be good to take some CYD tests with you.
- Be aware of what's going on around you and try to stay in control. Also be aware of your date's ability to consent to sex - you may become guilty of committing rape if the other person is not in a condition to respond or react.
- When in bars or clubs, get your drink directly from the bartender. Keep your eyes on your order. If you set it down to go to the dance floor, be wary of going back to it.
- Remember soft drinks can also be a target for date-rape drugs.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. If there's talk of date rape drugs or friends seem too drunk for what they have actually downed, leave immediately and don't go back!
- Don't spend time alone with someone who makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable. Follow your instincts and remove yourself from situations that you don't feel good about.
- If you have reason to suspect that your drink has been spiked, test your drink with CYD. These strips analyze your drinks and give a clear indication if it has been spiked with GHB or Ketamine. If everyone carried CYD when drinking, potential criminals would think twice about spiking.
How can I tell if my drink has been spiked?
Most date rape drugs take effect within 15-30 minutes and symptoms usually last for several hours. However, if you pass out it will be hard to know the full effect. You may still feel some of the symptoms of a date rape drug after a night's sleep. If you have CYD test strips with you, check your drink as soon as you feel strange. Although your symptoms will depend on which drug has been used, they usually include some of the following:
- Lowered inhibitions
- Difficulty concentrating or speaking
- Loss of balance and finding it hard to move
- Visual problems, particularly blurred vision or hallucinations. (seeing, hearing or touching things that aren't there) or having an "out of body" experience
- Nausea and vomiting
- Memory loss (amnesia) or "blackouts"
- Feeling confused or disorientated, particularly after waking up (if you've been asleep)
- Paranoia (a feeling of fear or distrust of others)
What should I do if I think my drink has been spiked?
Whatever you do, do not ignore your situation because you feel embarrassed.
If you are still able, test your drink with Check your Drink, drink spiking drug test. These strips analyze your drinks and give a clear indication if it has been spiked with GHB or Ketamine. If you can, try and keep your drink with you. This could be used as evidence by the police.
Tell someone you completely trust, such as:
- A trusted friend or relative
- A pub landlord/ landlady or a pub or bar manager
- Security staff
- A medical professional
- The police
If you aren't with anyone, call someone you trust and get to a safe place. Ask to use a phone if yours has been stolen. Be wary of accepting help from a stranger and don't leave with someone you don't know.
The following numbers and links are for the UK. If you are in another country, please refer to the equivalent information for that country.
If you need urgent help, call 999. Otherwise, someone you trust should take you to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department. Tell the medical staff that you think your drink has been spiked. Arrange for a trusted friend or relative to take you home and stay with you until the drugs have fully left your system.
Report it to the police as soon as you can. They will need to take blood and urine samples. Most drugs leave the body within 72 hours of being taken (the date rape drug GHB leaves the body within 12 hours), so it's important to be tested as soon as possible.
If you are abroad, get help from a travel representative, local medical services or ask a bar or hotel manager to call local police. You can also find contact details for the British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate on GOV.UK.