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What is Drink Spiking?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Drink spiking is the illegal act of placing a substance into a drink with the intention of causing harm to the drinker. In recent years, media reports have shown this activity to be on the rise. Whether this can be attributed to sensational reporting or fact, it's something that everyone should be cautious of.

The reasons behind drink spiking may include theft, rape, assault or just plain amusement. It is illegal, and if a person is found guilty, he or she will face a heavy penalty. The act is illegal even if no assault or harm comes to the person whose drink has been spiked.

The symptoms of spiking depend on the substance added to the drink, as well as how much alcohol the drinker has ingested. Other factors that may affect how a person response include the age of the victim and his or her body shape and size.

Signs that one's drink has been spiked often include disorientation and dizziness. Hallucinations may occur, along with vomiting and nausea. The victim may also suffer from lethargy and slurred speech. Loss of memory is also a sign, especially regarding events of the night in question. Drink spiking has been known on occasion to induce coma or even death.

Any drug can be used to spike a drink, but the most common is flunitrazepam, also known as rohypnol. This drug has been reported frequently in the press as the date rape drug. Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine are also frequently used to spike drinks because of their anesthetic qualities when mixed with alcohol. These drugs have no taste, color or odor, and symptoms usually appear within five to 30 minutes and have been known to last for around 12 hours. It is almost impossible to tell if they have been placed into a drink.

There are some precautionary guidelines that can help prevent drink spiking. People should never leave a drink unattended, always keeping it in the hand. No one should also accept a drink from someone that he or she does not know, and individuals should be vigilant when friends leave drinks unattended.

Anyone who experiences unusual symptoms after consuming only a small quantity of alcohol should seek help immediately. He or she should make sure to stay with friends and go to a safe place right away. Drugs can leave the body within 12 to 72 hours, so it is important for the person to be tested as soon as possible.

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Discussion Comments
By anon952405 — On May 21, 2014

I understand that some ladies (commercial sex workers) are smearing it on their bodies so that when a man (customer) is having sex with them, they can ingest it and they get a chance to steal from the customers.

By anon345286 — On Aug 17, 2013

In my opinion, the most important thing is not to accept drinks from strangers and even from someone you know. Look when they are poring and make sure the bottle was sealed before they poured you a drink, and also make sure to rinse the glass you drink from, because the drugs could be on the glass as well.

By anon301675 — On Nov 05, 2012

I had a former friend of mine spike my drink once and I never knew until recently. The scariest thing about the whole thing is that I took most of the precautions that are talked about and it still happened. Now I am afraid to go anywhere near that person who did it to me. I now feel like I have no one to watch my back when I am around them. I don't think I have ever felt so scared or fearful of someone before in my life.

The former friend said that it was meant as a joke but to do that to someone is not a joke. I feel like I have lost all confidence in them and the people who were around there and said nothing about it.

By anon141504 — On Jan 10, 2011

My drink was spiked recently and thankfully I had friends with me who called 911. I was at a club for the first time in my 23 years of life and I don't remember much.

I remember seeing things and feeling strange and then I fell out on the floor, according to my friends. We all stuck together but the club was very crowded.

I don't remember falling or throwing up black stuff or going to the ER. I only drank 2 1/2 drinks which is less than what I usually drink. Also, all that I ate or drank was not dark in color so I am not sure what I was throwing up. I will never attend another club. It can be avoided by not attending clubs. I did all the right things but helene was right: a spiker wouldn't have been noticed in the club we were at.

Avoidance is the key. I would have never imagined that this would happen to me.

By hyrax53 — On Nov 13, 2010

@helene55, it's also true that people can have their drinks spiked by people they know as well as strangers. And while there is not always an illegal drug involved, other spiking can also be done. Some people think it is very funny to spike a non-drinker's beverage with actual alcohol, for example, which can be bad for a person unused to drinking or who is avoiding alcohol for any number of reasons, such as allergy or even recovering from alcoholism. It's important to make sure you watch what you drink, and where you get it, even with friends.

By helene55 — On Nov 13, 2010

Having your drink spiked is avoidable for the most part. As the article says, there are precautions one can take. Some not mentioned here include simply avoiding situations where it might occur, like large parties or bars, especially ones that are crowded, where a drink spiker might be less likely to be noticed.

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