No one ever thinks it’s going to happen, but there have been increases in incidents of spiked drinks – people consuming beverages that, without their knowledge, are drugged or have alcohol added to them. This tactic is used for various reasons, including seemingly innocent pranks and more serious attempts at rape or robbery. It happens in bars and at parties. As reported by HealthDay News, it is a growing problem on college campuses, with women being at much higher risk than men of having it done to them.
There are precautions to take to avoid a spiked drink, but despite these precautions, there are still growing numbers of incidents where people have had their drinks spiked, resulting in serious repercussions. When it does happen, it is possible to avoid some of these repercussions and deal with the problem of having an unknown drug in the body.
Steps to Take
If a person believes that they, or a friend, have had a spiked drink, the following are steps that can be taken to prevent further harm:
- Recognize the symptoms of consuming a spiked drink.
- Get to a safe place.
- Get trusted help.
- Go to an emergency room or doctor.
- Have trusted company at all times.
- Get psychological help.
Step 1: Recognize the symptoms of consuming a spiked drink.
When in a situation where drink spiking is suspected, it is important to know what symptoms to watch for. The Australian Drug Foundation lists the following potential symptoms:
- Feeling dizzy, faint, or sleepy
- Experiencing nausea or other feelings of illness
- Being more drunk or intoxicated than expected based on alcohol consumed
- Passing out or experiencing blackouts
All of these may be signs that an individual has consumed a spiked drink. If it is suspected, the following steps can help keep the individual safe from further harm.
Step 2: Get to a safe place.
The first step is to make sure the individual is safe. If the person is still in the situation where the drink was spiked, it is important to get that person away from the situation and the people there. This can be vital to making sure the person is not at further risk from the person who spiked the drink to begin with. This could prevent a rape or robbery.
If it is later or the next day, make sure the person is in a place where potential problems related to the drug that was used will not have other dangerous consequences. For example, make sure the person does not try to drive a car or do something else that can pose a risk if there are lingering effects from the drug.
Step 3: Get trusted help.
When the person is safe, it is important to seek out others who can provide active support, such as trusted friends, parents, or the management of the establishment in which the problem occurred. Nearby police officers, security, or even emergency management personnel can help.
This has two purposes. First of all, it can provide additional safety and support for the individual. Secondly, these people may be able to help with the following steps while making sure that the individual can also be safely guarded and observed for any deterioration of physical or mental condition, as described by the Better Health Channel.
Step 4: Go to the emergency room or doctor.
Whether the drink has just been consumed or is suspected to have been consumed the previous evening, it is important to get medical help right away. This is for several reasons:
- To manage potential injury or harm caused by the substance
- To determine by testing what substance was used
- To determine whether other evidence of assault or rape is present
- To encourage the person to report the event to police
According to research, including some from the Postgraduate Medical Journal, alcohol is actually the most commonly used substance for spiking drinks. However, other drugs can include stimulants like ecstasy, depressants like Ketamine or GHB, or a benzodiazepine called Rohypnol, which is often referred to as the “date rape drug.” Other drugs like cocaine and heroin can be used as well. Going to a doctor can help to determine which of these drugs has been used, so appropriate medical support can be provided to help the person recover from the event.
Step 5: Have trusted company at all times.
While the person is detoxing from the substance, it can be important for someone who is trusted to be with that individual at all times, not only to observe any potential changes in condition, but also to provide comfort and support in dealing with the aftermath of the event. Both the drug and the realization of what happened can have a profound emotional or mental effect on the individual who has been the victim of a spiked drink.
People who can advocate and support the individual are vital in helping to get professional help and initiate an investigation of the attack, if possible.
Step 6: Get psychological help.
For an individual who has been a victim of drink spiking, and potentially of a follow-up sexual or physical assault, it can be vital to get counseling or another form of psychological support. Trying to process the effect that an event like this can have can be challenging without this type of support, and can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
Working with a support group is also an option. Organizations like the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network can provide group support for victims of sexual assault perpetrated through spiked drinks and other organizations can provide support for assault. It’s important to remember that a person who has consumed a spiked drink has experienced an assault and deserves the support and care that would be provided to other assault victims.