Drink spiking and how to help

In recent months, Guelph Police have launched an investigation into reports of female students from the University of Guelph who have had their drinks spiked with an unknown substance at multiple events. Furthermore, at the beginning of November, Charlottetown police opened an investigation of two reports of women who consumed spiked drinks while at a bar in downtown Charlottetown; toxicology testing confirmed the presence of a “noxious substance” in one of the reports.

Drink spiking refers to adding alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink without their knowledge or consent. In addition, consuming a spiked drink can make an individual more vulnerable to theft and/or sexual assault. Often, drink spiking involves adding the so-called “date rape drugs” Rohypnol, gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), ketamine, or benzodiazepines to drinks with the intention to commit physical and sexual assaults by sedating the victim.

How can you tell whether a drink has been spiked?

Often, the drugs used to spike drinks are tasteless, and do not produce an obvious odour or colour change. However, when added to a drink, these drugs can produce various physical symptoms, including feeling more intoxicated than normally given the amount of alcohol consumed, as well as the following signs:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Lowered inhibition
  • Sleepiness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

It is important to note that these symptoms can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the substances and doses used (including the dose), the individual’s height and weight, and the amount of alcohol consumed.

How to help someone whose drink has been spiked

If a friend or someone at the bar begins to feel strange or more intoxicated than they should be, it is important to get help immediately.

· Report this event to a bar manager, bouncer, or staff member

· Stay with the affected individual and continue talking to them

· Call an ambulance if their symptoms get worse

· Don’t let them go home alone

· Don’t allow them to leave with someone whom you don’t know or trust

· Don’t let them consume more alcoholic beverages

What to do if your drink has been spiked

· If you suspect your drink was spiked, stop drinking immediately.

· Tell someone in your vicinity – such as a trusted friend, the bouncer, security, or bar staff.

· If you need urgent help, call 911 or have the person helping you call the police.

· Get tested as soon as possible since most drugs can only be detected within 12 – 72 hours of consuming them.

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent your drink from being spiked. The most important thing to do is NEVER leave your drink unattended and keep it on hand at all times. As well, you should never accept drinks from someone you don’t know or trust, as there is no way to know what they have done to the drink prior to offering it to you. Some venues also provide “drink stoppers” to apply to the top of the bottle to protect the drink from being spiked. If you are a in a group of friends you can work together to make sure that at least one of you is watching the drinks if others need to use the restroom or want to spend some time on the dance floor. If you ever see someone dropping something in someone else’s drink ALWAYS immediately tell the bouncer/bartender and let that individual know, we can all work together to try and keep each other safe.

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