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Drink Spiking

By UWEaccomm 27 Sep 2018

Drink-spiking can have potentially devastating consequences for the victim, including serious illness or death, being victimised whilst under the influence, and emotional distress as a result of their experience.  In the UK, spiking someone’s drink with drugs or alcohol is always a crime, regardless of the motivation, and on its own it carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. If the spiking is accompanied by another crime, such as rape, assault or robbery, the sentence will be even higher.

Photo by Anders Nord on Unsplash 

Things to remember:

Drink spiking is never the fault of the victim, regardless of whether they were drinking beforehand, left their glass unattended, or simply put their trust in the wrong people. If you suspect you may have been spiked, you are deserving of support.

Although people should not be in a position where they have to protect themselves from being targeted, the unfortunate reality is that there are people out there who are committing this crime. The following tips may help you to keep yourself safe:

  • Don’t leave your drink unattended and encourage your friends to do the same.
  • Don't accept a drink from someone you don't know and trust.
  • Stick to bottled drinks if you can, and keep your thumb over the top.
  • Make sure someone you trust knows where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
  • Plan your journey home in advance, and ideally arrange to travel with friends.
  • Don’t leave with someone you don’t know.

If you notice a friend appears unwell or is too intoxicated to look after themselves, seek medical advice and stay with them until you’re sure they’re safe.

Photo by Yuvraj Singh on Unsplash

If you are concerned that you may have been spiked, seek help from someone who you completely trust. This could be a very close friend or relative, a manager or security staff if you are at a bar or club, the police, or a medical professional. If you are feeling really unwell or do not feel there is anyone you can trust, call 999.

If you live on campus at UWE, you can also call Emergency Services 0117 32 89999 if the emergency is on campus. This will alert the emergency services and also reception, to allow the police/ambulance/first aider be directed to you more efficently.

Symptoms to look out for are:

  • Feeling very drunk, particularly if you feel a lot more intoxicated that you would have expected based on what you’ve drunk.
  • Lowered inhibitions.
  • Problems concentrating or remembering things.
  • Slurred speech or difficult balancing.
  • Feeling confused or disorientated.
  • Feeling ill or vomiting.
  • Difficulty staying conscious. 
  • Being unable to remember what happened the next morning (“black outs”).

If you suspect you may have been spiked, please consider reporting the incident to the police as soon as you can. They may ask you to provide blood and urine samples, and as most drugs leave the body within 72 hours, it's helpful to have these tests done as soon as possible.

Photo by Thư Anh on Unsplash
  • Not everyone who spikes a drink does so because they want to cause someone serious harm. Spiking is sometimes used as a very misjudged and dangerous prank. If you are considering spiking someone’s drink as a joke, please consider the potential consequences for the victim (serious illness or even death, being victim of a serious crime whilst under the influence, emotional distress as a result of the incident), and for yourself (a criminal record, up to 10 years in prison, losing your place at university or your student accommodation, losing friends, living with the guilt of harming another person).
  • If you believe you have been the victim of drink-spiking and are struggling emotionally as a result, you can access free, confidential, and non-judgemental support from the UWE Wellbeing Team. 

The Wellbeing Service is based on Frenchay Campus (2FC 50 Felixstowe Court).

Contact details:

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash -  sell test strips for drinks (£4.99 for a box of five). Stay safe!

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