Spiking: Get Clued Up

Every year, hundreds of people in the UK are thought to be victims of spiking. Over recent months, we've seen awareness raised and concerns deepen, but what do we actually know about spiking? 


Content warning: this page contains information about spiking, assault, rape and breaches of consent. 

While reading, you may find that this guide affects you more than you thought it would. If this is the case, then think about seeking further support. We’ve put together a list of support services that you can access at the bottom of this page.

However, if this topic makes you uncomfortable because this isn’t something that you usually think or talk about, then do read on. It’s important to understand consent and to be able to communicate openly about this issue.


What is spiking?


Drink spiking is when someone adds drugs (typically rohypnol, Valium or GH) or alcohol to someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission. Spiking is a serious offence, with consequences to people's health, safety, and mental wellbeing. Spiking can often lead to further crime, including assault, rape, or robbery, which carry further sentences if criminally charged.

Fact: The most commonly used substance to spike drinks is alcohol. 

Remember, there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions to spiking. Anyone, of any gender, in any location, can be spiked.


How do you recognise it?


There are a variety of symptoms for spiking, largely due to the different substances and doses that can be used, as well as how different individuals react to these. 

Symptoms include: 

  • Lowered inhibitions

  • Loss of balance

  • Feeling sleepy

  • Visual problems

  • Confusion

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Unconsciousness

  • An unusually long hangover or a severe hangover when you had little or no alcohol to drink

Spiking often causes a fast and unexpected change to someone's behaviour so being aware of your friends can help you spot signs of spiking quickly. 


What should I do if I suspect that someone has been spiked?

  • Seek help: tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff if you're in a public venue

  • 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

  • Check in with the person afterwards and signpost to further support 


If you suspect someone has been pierced by a needle:

  • Encourage the wound to bleed, ideally by holding it under running water
  • Wash the wound using running water and plenty of soap
  • Do not scrub the wound while you're washing it
  • Do not suck the wound
  • Dry the wound and cover it with a waterproof plaster or dressing
  • Seek medical attention by calling NHS 111 or going to A&E


Reporting spiking & any further offences:


From a 3-month national survey, conducted by Stamp Out Spiking in 2021 - 97.64% of respondents said that they didn’t report having their drink spiked. Spiking is one of the most under-reported crimes. It's up to you if you want to report a case of spiking against yourself. Here's some advice on how to report:

  • Get tested soon after the incident. Most drugs leave the body within 72 hours of being taken (GHB leaves the body within 12 hours), so it’s important to be tested as soon as possible. This can be done through blood and urine samples. 
  • Be aware that if you seek medical attention and evidence of spiking is found then medical professionals have a duty of care to report this to the police. Therefore, it is your choice whether to ask to test for spiking. This should not deter you from seeking medical attention for symptoms of spiking. 
  • It's your choice whether to pursue legal action and you can seek support to help you think through this decision and next steps. Check support services at the bottom of this page.

For sexual assault, please see our reporting guide here

What can I do to help make change?


Use your voice: as a customer, your feedback to clubs and bars should be valued. Demand processes and policies to ensure your safety. Feedback if expectations are not met. 


Raise awareness and validate survivors. Start conversations about spiking, call out inappropriate comments and behaviour and be there for your friends on nights out and afterwards.


Campaign for more awareness and accurate data:

"One of the biggest issues we face in tackling this crime is the lack of accurate data. Even though drink spiking is a crime, with a potential 10-year prison sentence, there is no specific offence code for drink spiking in British law. This means that drink spiking incidents are not easily recorded as such the police find it extremely difficult to know how many incidents have been reported. Another obstacle to gaining accurate data is that most people do not report suspected incidents to the police, for a number of reasons. // We are calling for a change in the law so that drink spiking has its own specific offence code. We would then be able to obtain a more accurate picture of the true extent of drink spiking in the UK. " - Dawn Dines, CEO and Founder of StopTopps and Stamp Out Spiking UK (SOS UK), a not-for-profit set up in 2019 on a mission to stamp out spiking. Find out more about Stamp out Spiking and how to get involved here.


Support Services:


• AUB Student Support: provide on-campus wellbeing and counselling support with staff who have received training in sexual assault

• STARS Sexual Trauma And Recovery Service: offers specialist emotional and practical support to survivors who has been affected by sexual trauma of any kind at any time, including ongoing counselling

• The Shores: Dorset Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) will collect evidence and can provide an ISVA to support through any criminal investigation and prosecution

• Over The Rainbow: provides sexual health services and support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community

• Dorset Mind provide support, advice and information on mental health and can connect you with local support groups 

• Samaritans Helpline offer a safe space for you to talk at any time and can help you explore your options, understand your problems better, or just be there to listen

• Sexual Health Dorset offers advice and information on sexual health and can provide STI screenings, pregnancy testing, contraception and emergency contraception


Credit & Further Resources:





www.nhs.uk: what-should-i-do-if-i-injure-myself-with-a-used-needle