To spike a drink means to put alcohol or drugs into someone's drink without their knowledge or permission. Drink Spiking can happen to any type of drink, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Different types of spiking can include the following substances being added to drinks: 

  • Alcohol 
  • ‘Date rape’ drugs 
  • Illegal drugs 
  • Prescription drugs (e.g., stimulants, tranquillisers, sedatives, opiates) 

Around three quarters of spiking victims are women, but men can be targeted too. 

A person may be spiked to make them more vulnerable for a variety of motives, from playing a prank on that individual or to commit further crimes such as theft or sexual assault. The offence depends on the intent of the perpetrator but spiking a drink is of itself an offence of administering a noxious substance. However, when it is administered with intent for example to engage in sexual activity then it would be a sexual offence whether sexual activity takes place or not. There is no excuse for spiking and all guilt and responsibility lies with the perpetrator. The victim is never to blame. 

Spiking a drink with substances such as alcohol or drugs or spiking by injection are serious criminal offences with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and constitutes serious disciplinary offences within the University with penalties including expulsion and exclusion. 

What are date rape drugs? 

Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most known ‘date-rape’ drugs. Both drugs can be used to commit physical and sexual assaults as they can sedate or incapacitate a victim, making them more vulnerable to attack. 

If your drink has been spiked with a date rape drug it's unlikely that you will see, smell, or taste any difference, no matter what type of drink you are having. Most date rape drugs take effect within 15-30 minutes and symptoms usually last for several hours. 

Needle Spiking

You may have seen reports in the news recently about needle spiking. Reports like this can cause worry, especially as the needle spiking coverage has come at a time when violence against women and girls is being regularly reported by the media. 

Needle spiking (also called injection spiking) is a phenomenon initially reported in the UK and Ireland where people have found themselves apparently subjected to surreptitious injection of unidentified sedative drugs, usually in a crowded environment such as the dancefloor of a nightclub and producing symptoms such as sedation and amnesia typical of date rape drugs. 

What are the symptoms of drink/injection spiking?
Drugs used to spike drinks are very difficult to detect as they are tasteless, colourless and odourless. Additional alcohol is also hard to detect in alcoholic drinks. The effects of drink spiking vary depending on what substance was used and if it is mixed with other substances, e.g., alcohol, recreational or prescription drugs. 
The drugs used often make you feel sleepy, weak and reduce your ability to defend yourself. You may not be aware of what is going on around you or what is happening to you. Common Symptoms could include: 
  • Lowered inhibitions 
  • Loss of balance 
  • Feeling sleepy 
  • Dizziness
  • Visual problems, for example, blurred vision 
  • Hallucinations (seeing things which are not there)
  • Confusion, especially the next day or after waking up
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Amnesia (loss of memory) especially about things that have happened recently.


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