It’s really important that everyone is aware how to avoid drink spiking. Regardless of who does it and what their motives are, drink spiking is against the law and the consequences for those who commit this cowardly act are heavy fines and incarceration ranging from two to 25 years. Drink spiking is not always a prelude to further crime, although it definitely can be, and can be perpetrated by a friend playing a joke, or a stranger with ulterior motives of a sexual or violent nature.
What is drink spiking exactly?
Drink spiking can happen anywhere, and is not restricted to pubs, clubs, nightclubs and parties. It can happen when there are many people around in a public place, or between two people in a private residence. Drink spiking is the act of adding drugs or extra alcohol to someone’s drink without their knowledge or consent. Contrary to popular belief, drink spiking is not restricted to illicit drugs and alcohol. Over the counter drugs mixed with non-alcoholic drinks such as soft drinks, coffee and water are just as effective in causing the intended recipient to lower their inhibitions, become disoriented, or unconscious.
What are the symptoms of drink spiking?
Drink spiking drugs can be colourless and odourless, although not always, so it can be difficult to tell if your drink has been spiked by sight or smell. Therefore your actions and how you feel are the best ways to determine if you may have been the victim of a spiked drink. Symptoms of drink spiking include:
- Being drunker than usual given the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed
- Inability to speak properly
- Hallucinations and confusion
- Nausea, vomiting and/or seizures
- Loss of inhibitions
- Loss of consciousness
- Unexpected hangover given the amount you drank, or an unusually long hangover
The severity of these symptoms will depends on a range of factors such as your age, size, weight, the amount of alcohol you’d drank before ingesting the drugs, and the drink spiking drugs that were used.
Common drink spiking drugs and their effects
Different drugs have different affects on people including drowsiness, unconsciousness and euphoria. They can be common, illicit or over the counter drugs, and depending on the type and amount consumed, can have dire consequences including death. These include:
- Alcohol – the most common form of drink spiking is adding extra alcohol to someone’s drink
- Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) – sedatives that depress the central nervous system
- Ketamine, ecstasy, LSD, PCP and MDMA – hallucinogenic drugs that alter the way you perceive reality
- Xanax and Klonopin – legal over the counter drugs
What can I do to avoid my drink getting spiked?
The majority of people who have their drinks spiked are women who don’t believe they are at risk. However the risks are very real, and anyone who isn’t vigilant could be a victim.
Here are 8 steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a drink-spiking incident:
- Decline the offer of a drink from people you don’t know, or don’t trust.
- If you accept the offer of a drink from someone you don’t know or trust, accompany them to the bar, watch the drink being poured, and have the bar staff pass the drink to you.
- Order a drink with a lid, such as a bottle of beer or pre-mixed can, and witness it being opened by the bar staff.
- Don’t let your drink out of your site. If you need to go somewhere, either leave your drink with a trusted friend, or finish it first.
- When you’re not drinking, place your hand over the top of your drink.
- Don’t drink from someone else’s drink.
- If you have any suspicions about your drink, don’t drink it. For example, if you notice that it’s been moved, a straw has been added or removed, the amount inside has changed, it tastes or smells unusual, or some other change has been made, be safe and get yourself a fresh drink.
- Make sure you’re always with people you trust, and keep an eye on each other. Discuss how you will protect each other before heading out, and don’t let friends get out of sight, especially if socialising with strangers.
If you have any fears about your drink or what it may be doing to you, find a friend or member of staff (if at a public place) and ask for help. Also, if you witness someone else’s drink being spiked, notify management or call the police immediately.
What are the responsible service of alcohol (RSA) guidelines?
If you work at a bar, restaurant, nightclub or any other venue that serves or sells alcohol, you have a responsibility to your customers. You must be aware of your surroundings and act should you witness anything untoward. For example, should a patron order drinks with extra shots of alcohol in them, you must make a RSA judgement call. You must ask yourself “who are the drinks for” and “what is the reason for ordering them”.
All venues should have RSA guidelines and every staff member must be made fully aware of what they are, and what the consequences can be if they are not adhered to. There are several steps you can take to protect the health and wellbeing of your customers, and yourself legally, should anything happen, such as:
- Treat anyone asking for multiple shots in the one glass, or adding vodka to beer, with suspicion.
- Scrutinise anyone assisting an intoxicated person out of the venue, or offering to take them home. This could include asking questions and seeing ID.
- Seek medical assistance for anyone who is unconscious, and care for him or her until help arrives.
- Assist any intoxicated person in a safe place until help from a trusted friend arrives.
- Remove glasses that have been unattended for an acceptable period of time.
- If you witness suspicious behaviour, report it to management and/or call the police.
- Don’t add alcohol to a patron’s drink if someone else asks you to.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people helping inebriated or intoxicated people to ensure they are trusted friends. The best thing you can do is serve alcohol responsibly and report suspicious behaviour to management.
Complete your RSA course (SITHFAB201 – Provide responsible service of alcohol) online now and obtain your competency card without delay!