Spiking is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person’s drink or body without their consent or knowledge.
People can also be a victim of ‘needle spiking’, which is injecting someone with drugs without their consent.
Spiking can happen to anyone, anywhere and can be carried out by strangers or people you know.
Spiking someone could be a number of criminal offences, which can carry sentences of up to ten years in prison; even when no other offence, like theft or assault, has happened.
The signs of being spiked
It can be difficult to tell if your drink has been spiked but if you notice any changes to the appearance or taste of your drink, stop drinking it. If you’re in a bar or club tell staff or security immediately.
If you think you or a friend have been spiked, there are a range of things to look out for, including:
nausea or vomiting
hallucinations and paranoia
disorientation or poor coordination
loss of ability to communicate properly
It can be difficult to spot the symptoms as they vary depending on what you have been spiked with and can be similar to having excess alcohol. If you start to feel strange or more drunk than you thought you should be, seek help straight away.
If you think you've been spiked
If you think you or a friend has been spiked it’s important to tell someone as soon as you can.
Alert a member of staff or security if you're at a venue.
Stay with your friend and keep talking to them.
Don’t let them go home on their own or leave with someone you don’t know.
Report to the police online, on 101 or, in an emergency, call 999.
If you or someone else have symptoms
If you are worried call 111.
Call an ambulance if the symptoms get worse.
If you think there may have been a sexual assault
Go to your nearest sexual assault referral centre (SARC) for specialist care and support.
Letting people know gives the best chance of looking after you and gathering any evidence where a crime may have taken place.
We know it can be scary to report being spiked, but the police are here to help you. They will listen to you and take you seriously.
What will happen if you report to the police
Once reported to us and if spiking is suspected, officers may take a non-invasive urine sample.
Some drugs leave the body in less than 12 hours, so it is important to report and test as soon as possible. Other drugs remain in the body longer so testing can take place up to seven days after the incident.
The test results will come back in three weeks and we will keep you updated on progress.
It is not a crime to have illegal drugs in your system (unless you are driving), so please don’t let this stop you reporting. We know it can be scary to report, but we're here to help you.
We will also determine whether any additional crimes have occurred and support you.
If you are tested by your GP or in a hospital you will also need to have a police test. This is so the results can be used as evidence.
How to reduce the risk of spiking
Everyone should feel safe to enjoy themselves without worrying about being spiked. However, there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of spiking, whilst keeping yourself and others safe.
Watch out for your friends and look after each other.
Never leave your drink unattended.
Be cautious if you are bought or given a drink – consider only accept drinks from people you know and trust.
Be wary if people are reaching over your drinks.
Alert staff immediately if you see anyone acting suspiciously around your or someone else's drink.
If you or a friend feel unwell, seek help from staff or call an ambulance immediately.
Support and further information
Read more about keeping yourself safe on a night on the Frank website.