The Western NSW Local Health Network is urging party goers to protect themselves from drink spiking in local pubs and clubs.
Mental health / Drug and Alcohol Health Promotion Officer Emma Teuma, said drink spiking can happen very quickly, and if you’re not alert, you could be a victim.
“If you’re socialising in a crowded pub or club with dimmed lights and loud music, it’s very easy to lose concentration and forget to watch your drink at all times. It only takes a second for someone to slip a potentially harmful drug into a drink,” said Mrs Teuma.
“It’s sometimes hard to tell if your drink has been spiked, because the drugs are usually colourless, tasteless and odourless. Everyone will react differently, but the effects usually start within 15 to 30 minutes, and could last up to 8 hours.”
“Drink spiking can be an extremely frightening experience for the victim, and often their friends too. It can turn a night out, into a nightmare, creating a blurry mess of memories, and potentially serious health problems,” said Mrs Teuma.
Mrs Teuma cautioned that it is not only strangers that party goers should to be wary of.
“It’s a common misconception that only strangers are perpetrators, but a large number of reported incidents show drink spiking is often undertaken as a joke towards a work colleague, acquaintance, or even a romantic partner,” said Mrs Teuma.
“Most ‘prank spikers’ would not consider their actions to be criminal, or to represent actual harm or assault, but it is a serious crime. It is against the law to intoxicate a person unknowingly or against their will.”
“It’s really no laughing matter. The penalties for drink spiking can include a hefty fine and up to 25 years imprisonment.”
Alcohol is the most popular drug used to spike drinks, because it is the least likely to be noticed, due to the taste and flavour of the drink being consumed. Sedatives are also used for drink spiking, because they slow down and relax your body.
How to protect yourself:
- Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended. If someone offers you a drink, go to the bar with them.
- Don’t drink something you did not open or see get opened and poured.
- If you feel dizzy, sick, or confused ask someone you know and trust to take you to a safe place. Alternatively, ask bar staff to ring a taxi or a friend to come and get you.
- If you identify potential symptoms of drink spiking, it is important to tell an adult behind the bar or someone close to you immediately and seek medical help. If you wake up feeling uncomfortable or disorientated, with memory blanks from the night before, visit your GP.
They can test for the presence of traces of certain drugs through urine or blood tests for up to 24 hours.
- Drink spiking can happen to everyone, not just females. It is important for males to be aware of the dangers of drink spiking too.