Drink spiking and needle attacks: Signs to look out for – according to expert

Needle spiking: Student details experience in Nottingham nightclub

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Reports of drink spiking in the UK have increased by 108 percent between 2015 and 2018. The police have revealed that women are targeted more than men. Here are some common symptoms to spot if you suspect you’ve been spiked and when to seek medical help.

The symptoms of being spiked will depend on the type of drug or alcohol used.

Doctor Jarvis, GP and clinical director of Patient Access, lists some possible signs:

  • Feeling drunker than you would otherwise 
  • Problems with your balance
  • Problems with your vision
  • Feeling sleepier than you would expect 
  • Feeling sick.

She also adds that becoming confused, not being able to concentrate and not knowing where you are can also be signals.

READ MORE: Pancreatic cancer: The ‘difficult’ warning sign immediately after having a poo 

The NHS states that feelings of confusion are especially common the next day or after waking up.

Symptoms can develop within five to 20 minutes and last up to 12 hours.

Doctor Jarvis, who is also a medical advisor for Drinkaware, said: “If you are drunker than you expect to be, then you should get help straight away. 

“The idea is to stick with friends and if you think a friend has had their drink spiked then tell a bar manager, a bouncer, or a member of the staff.”

She adds: “Stay with them, keep talking to them, don’t let them go home on their own.

“Call an ambulance if things get worse and don’t let them drink any more alcohol.”

Looking out for symptoms can be tricky as victims might not realise they are experiencing them while being drunk.

However, it’s even harder to tell if you have been spiked based on the drink itself.

The drugs are usually tasteless, without smell or colour, according to the NHS.

What’s the difference between a spiked drink and needle attack?

“The only difference is that you may end up with a higher dose of whatever drug it is and end up with the effects coming on more, said doctor Jarvis.

The doctor warns that you might not be able to feel the injection as “the needles available today are so small and well-designed that you can pretty much inject yourself without feeling it”.

Although you might not be able to feel the needle penetration, you could feel the fluid.

Doctor Jarvis added: “Under normal circumstances, particularly if you are sober, you would feel the product being injected into you because… the amount of fluids, so you may well find that you get a pain a bit like when you have a flu jab.”

That’s why the doctor advises trying not to drink too much, sticking with friends and being on the lookout to avoid getting injected.

She reminds that becoming the victim of a spiking crime on a night out is “never ever a woman’s fault”.

Police are encouraging anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking to contact their local police force. 

If you suspect you’ve been assaulted, there are Rape Crisis charity helplines you can call for support and advice:

  • England and Wales: 0808 802 9999 (12–2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day)
  • Scotland: 0808 801 0302 or text 07537 410 027 (6pm – midnight every day)
  • Northern Ireland: 08000 246 991 (Monday and Thursday, 6 – 8pm)

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