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Drink Spiking & Symptoms

Drink Spiking & Symptoms

Navin Khosla NowPatientGreen tick
Created on 28 Dec 2023
Updated on 16 Jul 2024

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on drink spiking and how to protect yourself and others from this serious crime. Spiking someone’s drink is a malicious act that can have dangerous consequences, including making individuals more vulnerable to assault, rape, or robbery. In this article, we will explore the different types of substances used in drink spiking, the symptoms to watch out for, and the necessary precautions to take to avoid falling victim to this crime. We will also guide how to support a friend who may have been spiked and what steps to take in the unfortunate event of an assault.

Understanding drink spiking

Drink spiking involves adding substances to a person’s drink without their knowledge or consent. The motives behind drink spiking can vary, ranging from theft to sexual assault. It is important to note that spiking someone’s drink is a serious crime that can lead to severe criminal charges. The act of spiking a drink to make someone more vulnerable to assault, rape, or robbery is even more egregious and carries additional sentences.

Drink spiking can occur with any type of drink, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The effects of spiking can be unpredictable, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs. This combination can amplify the effects of the substances, potentially leading to dangerous situations. Unfortunately, due to underreporting and lack of official statistics, the true extent of the crime is difficult to determine.

Types of substances used in drink spiking

Drink spiking can involve various substances, each with its own set of risks and effects. These substances include:

  • Alcohol: Shots of alcohol can be added to drinks to make them stronger, causing individuals to become intoxicated more quickly than expected
  • ‘Date Rape’ Drugs: The most commonly known ‘date rape’ drugs are Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB). These drugs can sedate or incapacitate victims, making them more vulnerable to assault
  • Illegal Drugs: Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine, and other ‘party drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks. Mixing alcohol and stimulants can be extremely dangerous and lead to serious medical problems
  • Prescription Drugs: Spikers may also use prescription drugs such as stimulants, tranquillizers, sedatives, or opiates to spike drinks. These substances can have varying effects on individuals, depending on factors such as dosage, size, weight, and alcohol consumption

It is important to be aware that date rape drugs can be odourless, colourless, and tasteless, making them difficult to detect. They also leave the body within a short amount of time, further complicating efforts to identify their presence.

Recognizing the symptoms of drink spiking

Being able to recognize the symptoms of drink spiking is crucial in taking prompt action to protect yourself or others. The symptoms can vary depending on the substance used, the dosage, and individual factors. Here are some common signs to watch out for:

  • Lowered inhibitions: Individuals may exhibit uncharacteristic behaviour, such as acting more boldly or recklessly
  • Loss of balance: Difficulty in maintaining physical equilibrium or coordination
  • Feeling sleepy: Sudden drowsiness or a strong desire to sleep
  • Visual problems: Blurred vision, impaired depth perception, or difficulty focusing
  • Confusion: Mental fog, difficulty concentrating, or disorientation
  • Nausea: Persistent feeling of queasiness or an upset stomach
  • Vomiting: Unexplained vomiting or a sudden urge to vomit
  • Unconsciousness: Loss of consciousness or blackout

It is essential to remember that these symptoms can overlap with other conditions or intoxication. However, if you or a friend experience these symptoms unexpectedly or to an extreme degree, it is crucial to seek help immediately.

Date rape drugs: A closer look

Date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol (Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), are potent substances commonly used in drink-spiking cases. These drugs can render individuals helpless and more susceptible to sexual assault. It is important to understand their properties and effects to raise awareness and prevent potential harm.

Rohypnol, a powerful sedative, is typically odourless, tasteless, and colourless. It can cause individuals to experience profound sedation and memory loss. The effects of Rohypnol can be felt within 15-30 minutes of ingestion and can last for several hours.

Similarly, GHB is a central nervous system depressant that can induce euphoria and relaxation. It can also cause drowsiness, amnesia, and confusion. GHB’s effects typically manifest within 15-30 minutes and can persist for several hours.

It is important to note that the use of these drugs without consent is a criminal act, regardless of the circumstances. If you suspect that your drink has been spiked with a date rape drug, it is essential to take immediate action to protect yourself and seek help.

Effects of drink spiking

The effects of drink spiking can have severe consequences on the health and safety of individuals. The combination of substances in spiked drinks can lead to unpredictable and potentially dangerous outcomes. The effects can be influenced by factors such as the type of substance used, the dosage, the individual’s size and weight, and the amount of alcohol already consumed.

Some common effects of drink spiking include:

  • Lowered inhibitions: Spiked drinks can impair judgment and decision-making, leading individuals to engage in risky behaviours
  • Loss of control: Individuals may experience a loss of physical coordination and struggle to maintain balance
  • Impaired consciousness: Drink spiking can result in drowsiness, confusion, or even loss of consciousness
  • Vulnerability to assault: Spiked drinks can render individuals more vulnerable to sexual assault, robbery, or other forms of harm
  • Nausea and vomiting: Some individuals may experience severe nausea or vomiting as a result of drink-spiking

It is important to remember that the effects of drink spiking can vary greatly depending on the specific substances used, the individual’s response, and other factors. If you suspect that your drink has been spiked or notice any unusual symptoms, it is crucial to seek help and take appropriate action.

Taking precautions to avoid drink spiking

While the responsibility for preventing drink spiking lies with both individuals and establishments, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of falling victim to this crime. By being vigilant and taking precautions, you can enhance your safety. Here are some important measures to consider:

  • Never leave your drink unattended: Whether it is an alcoholic beverage or a non-alcoholic drink, always keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers: Be cautious when someone offers you a drink, especially if you don’t know them well. It is always safer to get your own drinks from a trusted source
  • Stick to low-risk drinking guidelines: By following the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption, you can maintain better control over your actions and reduce the risk of becoming intoxicated or vulnerable
  • Stay with friends and look out for each other: Establish a buddy system and stay together with trusted friends. Watch out for one another and be aware of any signs of distress or unusual behaviour

Additionally, it is crucial to be aware of the safety measures implemented by the venues you visit. Licensed establishments have a legal duty to ensure public safety and prevent crime, including drink-spiking incidents. If you notice any suspicious activity or have concerns about your safety, report them to the venue staff or management.

Supporting a friend who may have been spiked

If you suspect that a friend has been a victim of drink spiking, it is important to offer support and take immediate action to ensure their safety. Here are some steps you can take to assist them:

  • Notify venue staff: Inform the bar manager, bouncer, or a member of staff about your concerns. They can offer assistance and help ensure your friend’s safety
  • Stay with your friend: It is important to remain with your friend and provide reassurance. Keep them engaged in conversation and monitor their well-being
  • Call for medical help if needed: If your friend’s condition deteriorates or they show severe symptoms, do not hesitate to call an ambulance for professional medical assistance
  • Prevent them from leaving alone: It is crucial to ensure that your friend does not leave the premises alone or with someone you do not know or trust
  • Discourage further alcohol consumption: Drinking more alcohol can exacerbate the effects of drink spiking and lead to more serious problems. Encourage your friend to avoid consuming additional alcohol

Remember, your support and quick action can make a significant difference in ensuring the safety and well-being of your friend.

Dealing with the aftermath: Assault and reporting

In the unfortunate event that you or someone you know has been assaulted after drink spiking, it is important to take the necessary steps to address the situation and seek justice. Here are some important actions to consider:

  • Confide in someone you trust: Reach out to a friend, family member, or support helpline to share your experience and seek emotional support
  • Contact the police: Report the incident to the police by calling the emergency services. They can guide you through the process and initiate an investigation
  • Seek medical attention: Visit a hospital or a sexual assault referral centre for a medical examination and evidence collection. It is important to receive appropriate medical care and preserve any evidence that may assist in the investigation
  • Rape Crisis helplines: If you are not ready to involve the police immediately, you can contact helplines provided by organisations such as Rape Crisis. They offer support, advice, and guidance in a confidential and understanding manner

Remember, it is your right to seek justice and support. Do not hesitate to reach out for help and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and others.

Additional advice and information

In addition to the topics covered in this guide, there are other important considerations to keep in mind regarding personal safety and well-being. Here are some additional tips and advice:

  • Drink responsibly: Be mindful of your alcohol consumption and its potential effects on your judgment and vulnerability
  • Learn self-defence: Consider enrolling in self-defence classes to equip yourself with skills and techniques to protect yourself in challenging situations
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off or unsafe, trust your instincts and take appropriate action. Remove yourself from the situation and seek help if necessary
  • Stay informed: Keep up-to-date with local news, safety guidelines, and awareness campaigns related to drink spiking and personal safety

Remember, personal safety is a collective responsibility, and by staying informed and taking necessary precautions, we can work towards creating a safer environment for everyone.


Drink spiking is a serious crime that can have devastating consequences. By understanding the risks, recognizing the symptoms, and taking preventive measures, we can reduce the likelihood of falling victim to this malicious act. It is important to stay vigilant, support one another, and report any suspicious activities to ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us. Remember, together we can make a difference in combatting drink spiking and promoting a safer society.


Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information on this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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