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*Content note: discussion of sexual violence and assault

What is spiking?

Spiking is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person's drink or body without their knowledge and consent. Whilst drink spiking is typically the most common, there has been a rise of reports in the last year of spiking by injection.

A person can be spiked to make them more vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including theft, sexual assault or as an attempted joke.

Being spiked can be a scary experience and it's important to be able to recognise the signs your drink has been spiked or how to help someone you suspect has been a victim.

Commonly used drugs

Any drug can be used to spike someone, but the most commonly used drugs are:

  • Alcohol - shots of alcohol can be added to drinks to make them stronger. This causes someone to get drunk much quicker than expected.
  • Recreational drugs - recreational drugs such as Ecstasy, LSD Ketamine and other "party drugs" are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks.
  • Rohypnol and GHB - these drugs, also known as "date rape drugs", are most commonly used by people who carry out spiking to rape or sexually assault someone. They can be odourless, colourless and tasteless. They are commonly used to commit physical and sexual assaults as they can sedate or incapacitate a victim, making them more vulnerable to attack.

Symptoms of spiking

The effects of spiking depends on the substance used, what your drink has been mixed with, the dose, your size and weight and how much alcohol you have already consumed.

Your symptoms could include:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Memory loss

What to do if your drink has been spiked

It only takes a few minutes, 15 – 30 minutes, to feel the effects of a spiked drink. If your drink has been spiked, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to smell, see or taste any difference but if you feel off, or more drunk than you should be then get help straight away.

If you think you have been spiked:

  • Tell somebody you trust
  • Tell a bar manager, door supervisor or member of staff
  • Stay in a public area and try to find a safe space where a member of staff can help you
  • Try not to drink any more
  • Don't go home alone or with somebody you don't know

How to help a friend who you think has been spiked

If your friend is showing any of the signs of being spiked there are a few things you can do to help.

  • Tell a bar manager, door supervisor or member of staff at the venue.
  • Stay with them and keep talking to them.
  • Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates.
  • Don’t let them go home on their own. Book a licensed taxi using an app such as Uber.
  • Don’t let them leave the venue with someone you don’t know or trust

If you’re in one of our bars, please seek help from bar staff immediately. You will be taken to a safe place for proper help and this might also help us identify the person who has spiked your drink.

What to do if you've been assaulted

One of the effects of date rape drugs can be amnesia, or loss of memory. This means that it's possible that you won't be sure if you've been assaulted. If you suspect that you've been physically or sexually assaulted, try to confide in someone you trust like a friend or family member.

You can also go to the police, your local sexual health clinic or your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre for further support.

If you have been sexually assaulted it is important to remember that it wasn't your fault. Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. There is support available for you confidentially at UCL. Please reach out to us or UCL, who will be able to offer you support and advise you on what to do next.

How to avoid being spiked

We believe that you should be able to enjoy yourself without the fear of being spiked, and condone any form of victim blaming - it is not your fault if your drink is spiked. Whilst venues and the Police should work together to create a safer environment for everyone, there are some practical things you can do to stay safe on nights out:

  • Keep an eye on your drink, at all times.
  • Be aware of what you’re consuming and never take a drink that hasn’t been prepared in front of you. Don’t accept drinks from others.
  • If your drink doesn’t taste right, don’t finish it. If your drink tastes stronger than it should, it may have been spiked using alcohol.
  • If someone appears too over-friendly and is eager to buy you to drink, be extra cautious.
  • If you are feeling harassed ALWAYS alert venue staff – use the Ask Angela code to do this discreetly. Ask Angela has been active in our bars for several years but is now being rolled out across London. If you ask venue staff to speak to Angela, they’ll know you’re asking for help.
  • Always tell friends where you are going. If you meet new people and are going to go somewhere else, tell your friends.
  • Keep an eye out for each other. If your friends appear drunker than you’d expect, dizzier or are slurring their words, make sure they’re ok and stick together.

Support services

If you have been a victim of spiking and want to speak to someone about your experience, these services can offer support.