Can you tell if your drink has been spiked? And how to help if I you think someone's been drugged

There's been a rise in cases of spiking across the UK, with police forces urging victims to report incidents. Credit: PA

Over the last few weeks there have been rising reports of people having their drinks spiked or being spiked by injection when out in bars and nightclubs across the UK.

Police have confirmed reports in the North West including one incident where a teenager was allegedly injected with an unknown substance in Preston.

Meanwhile in Liverpool, a student was queuing up for a nightclub in Liverpool when she was allegedly spiked by an injection in the back.

Various universities and bars in the region have put out statements urging people to take extra care when out with friends.

There are plans for students to boycott nightclubs in Manchester on Wednesday (27 October) to raise awareness of the problem and demand more is done to tackle it.

Credit: PA

If you or one of your friends are on a night out and start to have a different than normal reaction to alcohol, then you may have been spiked.

Here's everything you need to know about spiking, the signs and symptoms and what to do if you think you or somebody else has been drugged.

Can you tell if your drink has been spiked ?

The most common illegal drugs used to spike drinks are GHB, ketamine, and benzodiazepines such as valium and rohypnol.

This is because they are hard for someone to detect in drinks. The drugs are usually tasteless, have no smell and have no colour so you would not usually know.

What are the signs and symptoms of someone who has been spiked?

The effects of spiking could vary depending on what someone has been spiked with. Symptoms might include:

  • Acting differently

  • Loss of balance

  • Visual problems

  • Confusion

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Unconsciousness

What to help someone whose drink has been spiked / spiked by injection

  • Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff

  • Stay with them and keep talking to them

  • Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates

  • Don’t let them go home on their own

  • Don’t let them leave with someone you don’t know or trust

  • Don’t let them drink more alcohol - this could lead to more serious problems

What to do if you think YOU have been spiked

  • As soon as you suspect you might have been spiked, do not drink any more.

  • Tell someone you trust immediately. Substances can take effect quickly and can make it harder to communicate.

  • Be cautious when asking strangers for help. If you are alone, ask security staff or venue staff to help you.

  • If you need urgent help, call 999 or have the person caring for you take you to A&E, telling them you think you’ve been drugged.

If you think you or your friend may have been spiked it is important to contact the police as this is illegal.

The police may ask for a sample of your blood or urine to test, to find out if drugs have been used.

It is important you are tested as soon as possible if you think your drink was spiked as most drugs leave your body within 12 – 72 hours.

If you suspect you or a friend has been spiked, call 999.

What are the police saying?

Det Insp George Binns, of Preston CID, said: “We appreciate that there is a great deal of concern surrounding these reports, particularly on the back of what has been reported elsewhere in the country.

"We take reports like these extremely seriously and are working diligently to get to the bottom of exactly what has happened.

“If you think you have been the victim of this kind of offence, we would encourage you to report it to the police or a member of the bar staff as soon as possible.

"You will be believed and it will allow us to obtain the strongest possible evidence to secure a conviction.

What steps can I take to stop my drink from being spiked?

  • Do not leave your drink unattended and keep an eye on friends' drinks

  • Drink from a bottle rather than a glass if you can. It is more difficult to spike adrink in a bottle; keep your thumb over the opening.

  • Keep your drink in your hand at all times

  • Never accept a drink from someone who you do not know or trust

  • Do not share, swap or drink any left over drinks

  • Some venues give out drink stoppers for the top of your bottle to prevent someone dropping something in your drink.

  • Testing kits can be used to detect certain drugs. But these don’t test for all types of drugs, so don’t always work, and they can’t detect extra alcohol in your drink.

Helplines and useful links: