Drink Spiking – Busting the Myths and Bringing the Facts

Your Students' Union Advice Service is a free, independent and confidential service for all students.

What is ‘Spiking’?

The term ‘spiking’ refers to when someone puts alcohol or drugs into someone else’s body without their knowledge or consent. Less common ways of doing this are through needle or vape spiking, but the most likely way you may experience spiking is by someone putting something in your drink. Reasons people spike other people can range from making it easier to steal from or assault another person, to wanting to feel powerful or thinking it’s a bit of a laugh. But ‘spiking’ is no joke. Not only is it a crime that can result in up to ten years in prison – it can also have a huge impact on a ‘victim of spiking’, with lifechanging effects to their emotional, physical and mental health that can last long after the ‘spiking’ has taken place.

Who is likely to get spiked?

‘Spiking’ can happen to absolutely anyone. Recent surveys cited by Life-stuff.org show that 1 in 10 young adults under 25 report that they think they have had their drink spiked. Everyone is vulnerable to being spiked and everyone can benefit from staying vigilant for both their friends and themselves.

Can I get spiked if I don’t drink alcohol?

Yes! Alcohol and drugs can be concealed in anything, including non-alcoholic drinks.

Can I avoid spiking by not going to clubs or public venues?

Sadly not. ‘Spiking’ can happen anywhere, not just at big public gatherings like festivals, clubs, or pubs.

Did you know? If, at a house party, a friend asks you to make them a drink with one shot of alcohol and you knowingly and deliberately put in more than they have asked for without their knowledge, this also counts as ‘spiking.’

What can I do to prevent spiking?

Things sound bleak, but Life-stuff.org has also reported that 9 out of 10 people manage to enjoy their night without worry or incident. ‘Spiking’ should be something you should be aware of but shouldn’t have to worry about. If you find yourself in a situation where you think you have been ‘spiked’ you will never be to blame. Some top tips you can take to try and reassure yourself when drinking in public include:

  • Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know. If a drink is being made for you, watch while your drink is made and take it directly from the server.
  • Never take eyes off your drink or leave it unattended.
  • Try to stay alert as much as possible, doing things like purposely drinking too much alcohol can make it harder for you to make the right decisions and be aware of risks.
  • Consider sticking to bottled drinks and avoiding shared open containers like cocktail jugs or punchbowls.

How do I know if myself or my friend has been spiked, and what should I do?

It is often quite difficult to tell if you have been spiked until much later. Most of the drugs used to spike drinks have no taste or smell and a lot of the early signs are similar to when a person is really drunk. Signs you can look out for include:

  • A sudden change in behaviour, going from acting sober to acting very drunk in a short space of time.
  • Nausea and sickness.
  • Passing out or blackouts in memory.
  • Confusion, slurred speech, and difficulty moving limbs or keeping balance.

If you are in an immediate situation where you think your friend has been spiked, always remember to 'CASS':

  • C: call out suspicious behaviour.
  • A: alert the host of the party or a member of staff/security at the venue or location.
  • S: seek medical support. This could be through staff at the venue, through the SafeZone app (if you are on Coventry campus) or by calling 999 in an emergency.
  • S: stay with the affected person. Support them, reassure them, and help them get home (or to a safe place) if it is deemed safe to do so.

Where can I go for support?

We hope you will never have to get support for the effects of drink spiking. But if you think you have been spiked there are places and people out there to help you. Always remember ‘spiking’ is illegal and never the fault of the victim who has been ‘spiked.’ The more people that speak out against and report ‘spiking,’ the harder it will be for people to get away with it. Check out these support resources below:

Go to Life-stuff.org for more comprehensive information on everything to do with drugs, alcohol, and mental health support.

Coventry University Sexual Harassment Reporting Tool: to report incidents as a result of spiking on campus.

Your SU - Your Advice Service: for support and signposting.

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