By Victor Ayeni
Drink spiking is when a person adds alcohol or drug to another person’s drink without their knowledge or consent, according to an information sheet by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
A person who spikes a drink may be the victim’s friend, acquaintance, colleague, date, or even a stranger.
Drinks can be spiked at nightclubs, bars, dance parties, private residences, community gatherings, and restaurants. Drink spiking is a crime and such incidents should be reported to the police.
A recent Tik Tok video that went viral showed the moment a man spiked a lady’s drink at a club, unknown to her. In her commentary accompanying the video, she said the stranger was following her, trying to touch or dance with her at the club.
Most victims of spiked drinks are women but it also happens to men. There have also been reports of prank spiking which do not have criminal intent but could pose risks to the target.
While alcohol is sometimes used to spike to make the drink stronger than the drinker expects, some others use different drugs to sedate and sometimes cause amnesia in their victims.
A nurse at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Mrs. Tolulope Awopetu, explains to our correspondent some of the symptoms that will be felt by a person whose drinks have been spiked.
She stated, “The most common effects spiked drinks cause are vomiting, unconsciousness, poor coordination, slurred speech, lowered inhibitions, dizziness, loss of motor skills, impaired judgment, visual problems and nausea.
“If you have consumed a spiked drink, you can start feeling sleepy or feeling ill. Others may feel more drunk or intoxicated than expected while some pass out or experience blackouts.”
Awopetu explained the steps that can be taken if a person suspects that their drink has been spiked.
Go to a safe place
She said if there is a strong suspicion that your drink has been spiked, the first step is to ensure that you get to a safe place. She noted, “If your drink has been spiked at a bar or party or a friend’s house, you should have the number of someone you can call to pick you up, like speed dial, and tell them you suspect that something has happened. So, the first step is to get away from there as soon as possible.
“If you are helping an individual whom you suspect their beverage was spiked, move that person away from that place so that they are not at further risk. This could prevent rape or robbery.”
Awopetu added that the victim should not try to drive a vehicle or do something else that can pose a risk if there are lingering effects from the drug.
Get trusted help
A chemical pathologist, John Reuben, said when a person whose drink was spiked is moved to safety, it is important to seek out others who can provide active support.
Reuben added, “Take the person to trusted friends, parents, or the management of the event centre or hotel where the problem occurred. If these options are not available, it’s best to call a medical emergency line.
“This can provide additional safety and support for the individual. They will also observe the victim to quickly report to a health centre if there is a deterioration of the physical or mental condition.”
Awopetu stressed that medical personnel are in a good position to provide proper support to the person whose drink was spiked.
“Medical professionals can help manage potential injury or harm caused by the substance, conduct laboratory tests to determine what substance was used, or determine whether there is evidence of assault or rape,” she added.
Get tested in a lab
The chemical pathologist advised that such persons should go for a lab test analysis to know what drug was used.
“If the person still has some of the spiked drink, they should keep a hold of it if possible. It could be used as evidence during prosecution and for analysis to know what drug was used.
“When such incidents happen, blood and urine tests will be conducted before the drug leaves the body so that the person can be treated accordingly.”
Surround the victim with trusted persons
Awopetu pointed out that when a person is still in the process of recovery from the substance, they should be with trusted persons at all times.
She added, “Someone who is trusted should be with that individual at all times, not only to observe any potential changes in their condition, but also to provide comfort and support in dealing with the aftermath of the incident.
“Having the right persons around them is important in helping them to get professional help and initiate an investigation into the attack, if possible.”
Get psychological help
Awopetu further advised that a victim of drink spiking should seek professional counselling in order to prevent the incident from resulting in panic attacks or paranoia.
She said, “When a person has fallen victim of drink spiking, they are potentially also victimised by sexual or physical assault, so they should get counseling or another form of psychological support because without professional support, the memory of the event may lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and paranoia.”
Be safety conscious at events
Reuben also advised party or club goers to ensure that they are safety conscious and that they prevent the cycle of drinks spiking.
He added, “Don’t accept drinks from strangers and if you accept the offer of a drink from a stranger, accompany them to the bar and take the drink from the bartender yourself.
“When you are at a bar or party where there are drinks being taken, don’t take your eyes off your drink. If you need to leave to go to the restroom or dance or receive a phone call outside, ask a trusted friend to keep watch. Also, make sure you buy drinks that come in bottles with screw-top lids.”