Drink spiking is when someone puts drugs or alcohol into your drink without your knowledge or permission.
Following the reopening of late bars and nightclubs, we have rounded up some tips on how to tell if your drink has been tampered with, what to do if you or someone else has been spiked, and ways to stay safe and avoid being spiked.
Take a look:
How to tell if your drink has been spiked
It can be very hard to tell if a drink has been spiked. However, if you look closely, you may be able to spot some telling signs.
Sinking Ice: Ice usually floats to the top of your drink. If you notice the ice is suddenly sinking to the bottom of your glass, it may be a sign your drink has been tampered with.
Colour change or foggy texture: Your drink may appear lighter, darker, or change colour completely if a drug has been added to it. It may also appear foggy or cloudy. If you notice any of the above changes in the drinks appearance, order a new one instead.
Excessive bubbles: Most drugs will have to dissolve in your drink and may react by bubbling. This can be difficult to identify if you’re drinking already fizzy beverages. If you’ve had a drink for a while and all of a sudden it starts fizzing up or creating bubbles like it’s just been poured, there may have been something dropped into it. Watch out for drinks that are not carbonated such as straight spirits or water that start to fizz as something could have been added to your glass.
Change in taste: If your drink tastes anyway strange or different, do not brush it off. Some date rape drugs can make your drink taste salty, so watch out for that. However, be aware that most drugs have little to no taste.
Be alert for strange activity: Has someone been watching you all night? Has someone been adamant for you to have a sip of your drink or theirs? Is someone overly eager to buy you a drink and bring it over to you? Does someone seem like they’re trying to distract you? Did someone brush against you weirdly or knock your glass?
Some of these things may be completely harmless coincidences, but other times they could be a sign of something more malicious. Be alert for any unusual or unsettling behaviour that may indicate someone is attempting to catch you off guard or get their hands on your drink. It may be a sign they are attempting to spike you or already have.
Watch for symptoms: If you’ve been spiked, you may not realise until you start to feel the affects of the drug. These can include impaired speech, dizziness, faintness, blurred vison, confusion, hallucinations, difficulty walking or moving, unconsciousness or nausea and vomiting. Symptoms will usually occur between 15-30 minutes after ingesting the drug.
What to do if you think you’ve been spiked
If you’ve noticed anything unusual about your drink or any alarming behaviour by someone at the bar, make sure to let your friends or someone you trust know.
It’s also a good idea to let the manager of the bar or a member of the security staff know if you think you have been spiked. This way they can keep an eye out for the culprit and keep you safe.
If you’re starting to feel unwell or strange, immediately stop drinking your drink and tell someone ASAP, ideally a friend or else a senior member of staff. Do not leave the venue with anyone you are not comfortable with. Stay in a safe, unisolated area with a glass water until you’ve made contact with someone who can get you home or to a hospital safely.
Spiking a drink is a crime, so make sure to report what happened to you to the guards.
What to do if a friend has been spiked
If you notice your friend displaying symptoms of being spiked, there are some things you can do to ensure their safety.
Stay with them at all times, and try to keep them calm as it can be a very scary experience. Do not let them out of your sight, and let a bartender or bouncer know what’s going on. Call the guards immediately and request that they come to the venue. They may test your pals drink for the drug for evidence.
You should also call an ambulance to get your friend to a hospital safely, even if their symptoms seem minor at first. It is better to be safe than sorry, and being surrounded by trained healthcare professionals is the best place your friend can be after being spiked.
How to prevent spiking
Drink spiking can happen to anyone, any age, any gender. It can also happen if you’re not drinking alcohol and are sipping on water or minerals for the night. While spiking is never your fault, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.
Stay with friends: Try not to get separated from your friends on a night out. If you are heading to the toilet, the bar or to dance with a potential love interest, make sure to tell somewhere where you’re going and when you will be back so they can look out for you.
Don’t share drinks: Someone may spike their own drink and offer you a taste of it. If someone is offering you a drink you haven’t seen being made and hands it to you, politely decline. If someone offers to buy you a drink, go to the bar with them and have the bartender hand you the drink themselves.
Never leave your drink unattended: Your drink should be in your hand at all times. If you’ve left your drink down to go dance or go to the toilet, do not resume drinking it when you return. Avoid having strangers hold or mind your drink for you too. Be aware some places have policies that you can’t bring your drink to the bathroom or onto the dancefloor, so rather than leaving it down, wait until you’ve finished it.
Cover your drink: If you’re drinking from a bottle, place your thumb over the opening when you’re not drinking it. If you’re sitting at a table, keep your hand or a beer mat over your glass. The same goes for when you’re up and about, try keep a hand over your glass so no one can slip anything in.
You can also bring a piece of cling film from home to pop over the top of your glass and drink through a straw, and keep the straw covered with your thumb.
There are a number of cup shields available to buy from sites like Amazon, specifically designed to prevent spiking.
Here are some helpful links for support and advice:
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: https://www.drcc.ie/