Lifestyle

How do I know if I’ve been spiked? We ask an expert

This year, campaigners told a parliamentary inquiry that drink and drug spiking had reached “epidemic” levels, where the question after a night out is no longer whether anyone got spiked, but who did. How do I know if I’ve been spiked? And what does the proposal to make spiking its own crime mean? I asked Dawn Dines, founder of Stamp Out Spiking.

Hi Dawn. Thanks for making time for me – I know you’re busy
Yes, it’s been crazy, there’s real interest in this issue. And I’m just about to leave for a party.

How does someone know if they’ve been spiked?
If your teeth start chattering, you get uncontrollably hot, or feel shaky, drowsy and disoriented, you have a small window to get to a trusted member of staff or friend as quickly as possible. It’s not long before you become compliant, unable to put up a fight and left with no memory.

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When we say spiking, are we talking only about date rape drugs – for example, GHB – or alcohol, too?
Spiking with alcohol is the most common form. Sometimes people think they’re being nice – buying a double when someone asks for a single. But everyone has a right to know what’s going inside their body. And someone could be trying to take advantage.

Recent stats show that 15% of women have had their drink spiked, but 7% of men have been spiked, too.
Yes. When we did our survey last March, we found 97% of victims didn’t report it, and many of those were male.

Is sexual assault always the motivation?
There are many reasons. Robbery, even jealousy. And pranksters who do it because people wet themselves.

Isn’t all this already illegal? Does spiking need to become its own crime?
It is illegal, but whenever it is prosecuted, it’s under something else, such as administering a noxious substance, or robbery, or rape.

I have many girlfriends who think they’ve been spiked. None reported it, as they felt they’d be blamed for being out late and drinking, as well as the self-doubt: have I really been spiked?
That’s everyone, men and women. How the hell are you supposed to know somebody’s put a drug in you?

Especially if the perpetrator never got around to whatever they had planned.
It’s not the police’s fault. How are they supposed to act when someone says: “Something happened to me” and when they ask what, the person says: “I don’t know.” That’s why we want the law to be changed, so drink spiking has its own specific offence code. We want to create a zero tolerance culture, where policy, procedure and risk assessments are in place, and to increase public awareness.

You’ve been campaigning for 17 years – why is spiking now on the agenda?
Social media. Millie Taplin’s case was very powerful.

What happened there?
Her mum released a video where she was in hospital, and her jaw was going from side to side. It was her first time in a nightclub. A guy offered to buy her a drink and he spiked her with a drug.

That’s horrific. Thanks so much, Dawn, and have a good party.
Thanks. I’ll be on a booze cruise, using my bottle stoppers – they’re foil drink protectors you can put a straw through that deter spiking.

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