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Staying safe & protecting yourself from drink & needle spiking

Introduction

It’s the season where parties are more commonplace.  Whether it’s an office party for Christmas or going out with family and friends.  They are a great way to unwind, socialise, and have a good time with friends, colleagues and acquaintances.  

At this time of year, you might also be more inclined to have a good ‘blow out’ and go to places you are not as familiar with or drink more than usual.  You might also be going out with people who aren’t your normal crowd or usual friendship group.  Most of the time, a fun night out remains just that, fun.  However, there are risks that are worth being mindful of particularly around needle and drink spiking, reported cases of which have been going up year on year since 2018.  

Needle spiking is a criminal act of having a needle or sharp object injected into someone’s body without their consent.  It is a form of assault.   

 

Drink spiking is where individuals tamper with beverages by adding substances without the drinker’s consent or knowledge.  This dangerous and illegal act can lead to serious consequences.

 

Both of these types of spiking can render a person vulnerable to harmful experiences particularly sexual assault and robbery and they can each have long term health consequences too.  They are both criminal acts that can result in a prison sentence of  up to 10 years for anyone found guilty of spiking someone in any way.

 

 

 

 

In this article, I’ll share some practical tips to help you remain vigilant and stay safe whilst you and those you care about are out having fun.

Watch your drink

  • One of the most effective ways to prevent drink spiking is to keep a close eye on your beverage at all times

  • Avoid leaving your drink unattended. If you're in a situation where you might lose sight of your drink, consider finishing it before you go to the toilet/pop on the dance floor and buy a fresh one when you return or ask a trusted friend to keep an eye on it

  • Don't accept drinks from strangers unless you're certain of their intentions.  Even a drink that looks closed (cap or ring pull) might have been interfered with - the safest approach is not to accept beverages from people you don’t know and trust

 

Top Tip:  There are products on the market that you can easily fit in a small handbag or back pocket that can help keep your drink safe such as => https://www.stoptopps.com/

https://nightcapit.com/

https://www.drinksafe.uk/ 

https://checkyourdrink.co.uk/product/cyd-10-test-pack/ 

 

Trust your instincts

  • Paying attention to your surroundings and the people you're with, or those around you can help you to take more notice if something feels off

  • Do not hesitate to remove yourself from the situation or seek help from friends, event organisers, or security personnel. Being aware and assertive about your own safety is crucial in preventing potential harm

  • Anybody can approach a member of staff at a venue and ask for ‘Angela’ - this is a code word to alert staff that you feel unsafe, threatened or vulnerable and they will discreetly provide you with help to assure your safety

 

Be wary of unusual tastes or smells

  • If your drink tastes (or looks) different to what you would expect or it has an unusual smell, colour or consistency stop drinking it immediately - it could be used as evidence so try to preserve the remains of the drink

  • Trust your own senses - if you suspect foul play, don’t continue drinking it, alert security personnel/the Bar Manager and get a fresh drink that you see being prepared

  • If you are at a house party and there are lots of people you don’t know, get your own drinks or accept them only off someone you know well and can count on

 

Stick with trusted friends

  • Attending parties with a group of friends you trust provides an additional layer of protection. Look out for one another, and establish a system to check in periodically

  • Have a ‘Buddy’ culture amongst your group, so nobody is ever left on their own or left behind.  Use apps to be able to locate one another via your phones in case you get separated such as ‘Find my’ or https://walksafe.io/ 

  • If someone in your group is behaving out of character for them,  not feeling well or seems disoriented, take it seriously.  Take immediate action to ensure their safety - seek support from security or medical services

 

Know your stuff

  • Educate yourself about common substances used in drink spiking, such as Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine or GBL - knowing the signs and symptoms of these substances can help you recognise if something is wrong

  • Symptoms of both drink and needle spiking can include:

    • dizziness, blurred vision, confusion, fumbled or loss of speech, extreme drowsiness, floppiness of limbs, nausea/vomiting, hallucinations and paranoia, poor coordination, muscle spasms, convulsions or seizures, difficulty breathing, loss of balance or partial/total loss of consciousness

    • specific to needle spiking is the presence of a small red bump or pinprick size hole which may have some blood drops around it. The injection site might feel raised, hot, itchy or sore like a small scratch

  • If you suspect that you/a friend may have been drugged:

    • seek medical attention immediately (and do not leave that person unattended).  If it’s a friend, try to make a note of when you/they first started noticing symptoms, this can be useful information for medics

    • if you are on your own, go to a member of staff at the bar or seek out security personnel

    • drink lots of water immediately - this will help to start flushing any drugs out of your system

    • avoid just going home thinking you’ll ‘sleep it off’ - medical attention is essential to identify what has been administered and monitoring is important to make sure there are no further adverse effects or reactions

 

Report suspicious behaviour

  • If you witness any suspicious behaviour or if you think somebody has assaulted you with a needle or other sharp object, report the incident to the authorities immediately, either via the venue’s security or directly yourself

 

Conclusion

Partying responsibly involves not only having a good time but also prioritising your safety and the safety of those around you. By staying informed, watching your drink, and being proactive in protecting yourself, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to drink or needle spiking.  Why not talk about this openly with friends?  Spread the word about how you can protect yourselves, share information you learn through self-education.  The more people who have one eye open to this, the more people can be protected.

 

My final note is that this is relevant to people of all genders.  However you identify, everything written above is equally applicable to you.  

 

By fostering a culture of awareness and vigilance, we can create safer environments for celebration and ensure that everyone can enjoy themselves without compromising their well-being.  Have fun enjoying life out on the party scene and take care of yourselves.  

 

There are many other useful pages across the Internet with more information available via any google search.  Some sites I’ve picked out that you might find helpful are: 

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