The most common way that people are spiked is by someone adding alcohol to their non-alcoholic drink, or extra alcohol to their alcoholic one, without their knowledge and/or consent. Drugs (legal or illegal) can also be added to drinks or put in someone’s body in another way, such as giving someone a drug but telling them it is a different dosage or a different drug altogether, or injecting it into them with a syringe. A person’s drink can be spiked to make them more vulnerable for a variety of motives, including theft or sexual assault.
People can be spiked with any type of drug, including:
- Prescription medicines, such as sedatives, tranquilisers and opiates – for example, Valium or Xanax.
- Illegal drugs that are commonly taken on nights out or at parties – for example, Ecstasy (also known as ‘MD’, ‘MDMA’, ‘Pills’, ‘Mandy’ or ‘Molly’), Ketamine or LSD. These are sometimes known as ‘party drugs’ or ‘club drugs’.
- Drugs that have become known for their use by people who commit spiking in order to rape, sexually assault or sexually abuse someone – for example, Rohypnol, GHB or GBL. These are commonly known as ‘date rape drugs’.
So-called ‘date rape’ is when someone carries out rape or another form of sexual violence or abuse against another person after spiking them. 'Date rape drugs' are sometimes used by people who want to commit a form of sexual violence or abuse for several reasons:
- They can make people become physically weak, feel ‘out-of-control’ or pass out.
- They can be odourless, colourless and tasteless – so it can be hard to know if your drink has been spiked with them.
- They leave the body within a short amount of time, making them hard to detect.
- They can cause memory loss – so the victim or survivor might not remember exactly what happened to them or who the perpetrator was.
Spiking is illegal and considered a serious crime – regardless of whether any sexual offence took place. It carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison in England. If the perpetrator also committed a sexual offence against the person they spiked, they will face additional sentences.
It doesn’t matter what a victim or survivor was wearing or doing before the spiking took place. It also doesn’t matter if they were drinking or ‘on’ drugs. No-one ever deserves or asks to be spiked. 100% of the blame, shame and responsibility lies with the perpetrator(s).
Consenting to sexual activity:
As stated above, spiking can be used as a way of making it easier to sexually abuse or assault another person. Consenting to any kind of sexual activity means agreeing to it by choice and having both the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
Spiking someone with alcohol or drugs takes away their freedom and capacity to make a choice about agreeing to sexual activity.
In short: if someone has been spiked, they cannot consent to any kind of sexual activity.
Symptoms of spiking:
- feeling or being sick
- feeling ‘strange’ or drunker than expected
- feeling confused, dizzy or disorientated
- feeling emotional and tearful
- feeling sleepy
- blurred or slowed vision, or trouble seeing properly
- loss of balance or coordination
- having trouble communicating
- having hallucinations
- changes in heart rate
- acting strangely or out of character
- memory loss
- loss of bladder control
- blacking out
These symptoms might start to come into effect within 15 minutes, depending on what a person has been spiked with. Symptoms can last for several hours.
Spiking can also leave long-lasting impacts on survivors, such as:
- social withdrawal
- problems continuing with education and/or employment
- difficulties concentrating, self-blame
- flashbacks or fear that it will happen again