Drink spiking refers to when someone puts drugs or alcohol in another person’s drink without their knowledge or consent. Oftentimes, the intention of drink spiking is to make an individual more vulnerable to sexual assault by disorienting them or impairing their decision making. Anyone can be a victim of spiking, so it is important to take safety precautions when going out and to stay aware of the signs that a drink has been spiked.
Date Rape Drugs
One of the most dangerous forms of drink spiking is with date rape drugs, substances that are added to drinks used to make a sexual assault easier. Victims of date rape drugs may be so sleepy or weak that they cannot fight against their attacker; some are even rendered completely unconscious. The two most common date rape drugs are gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and rohypnol, often referred to as roofies. Date rape drugs come in liquid, powder, or pill form, and because they are often odorless and tasteless, they can be almost impossible to detect.
Here’s our advice: When going out or attending social events – with or without alcohol – always arrive, stay, and leave with a group. Pour your own drinks and never accept a drink from someone you do not know or trust, especially if it is opened already. The safest bet is to drink from cans or bottles you can open yourself. Keep an eye on your drink or your hand over the top of it, and if you put it down, take a new one instead of picking it back up.
Here are the signs of date rape drugs to be aware of:
- Dizziness, nausea, or vomiting
- Slurred speech or inability to speak
- Sleepiness or an inability to stay awake
- Fainting or lack of consciousness
- Confusion and disorientation
- An inability to remember what has occurred
If you feel any of these symptoms, or if you have a friend who is experiencing any of them,call 911 and go to a hospital immediately. Date rape drugs can enter and leave the body quickly, so see if a urine or blood test is available to detect what substances might have been consumed. Sometimes the presence of date rape drugs cannot be proven, but the safest thing to do is to get medical care. Never feel ashamed or guilty for being a victim. Drink spiking can happen to anyone, at any time, even if a person stays vigilant about drink safety; it is never the victim’s fault.
Note: The signs of date rape drugs and heavy alcohol intoxication can be similar. However, if a person has an unexplainable change in their state of being or is having an out-of-character reaction to an alcoholic beverage, it is worth considering if drink spiking was involved.
In the event a person is unsure as to which is occurring, it is always a good idea to seek medical attention right away. Both situations are dangerous to the victim and getting help from healthcare professionals can save someone’s life.
Alcohol works as a disinhibitor, often making certain things (like a conversation with someone you hardly know) a little bit easier. It’s often called a “social lubricant” and that’s precisely why cocktail parties evolved! Alcohol also impacts the cerebellum, the balance center of the brain, which is why intoxicated people often stagger and cannot walk in a super straight line. Since alcohol can interfere with brain function and coordination, it can make it difficult for a person to control their mood, behavior, or decision making.
Some individuals use alcohol to spike drinks – making a non-alcoholic drink contain alcohol or even by adding more alcohol to an already alcohol-containing drink – to induce or increase intoxication. Even a person mindful of their limits around alcoholic beverages can be unaware that their drink was added to. It’s illegal to drink alcohol until you are 21, but if you are going to do it, make sure to exercise drink safety. It is important to keep an eye on your drink at all times and stay aware of your surroundings and those near you. If you leave a drink unattended even if for a minute or two, grab a new one. Same goes if you notice a taste change in your beverage. It is also a good idea to stay with a group when drinking and sip alcoholic beverages slowly in order to stay mindful about the level of intoxication. Make sure to have enough water and food if consuming alcohol, and avoid drinking out of a “punch bowl” where you might not know all the ingredients in a drink.