Taking care of yourself
In recent years, the incidence of drink spiking has increased in the community. A 'spiked drink' means that alcohol or drugs have been added to someone's drink without their knowledge or approval. Any drink can be spiked, including soft drinks, juice, water or alcohol. If a person is a victim of a spiked drink, they are vulnerable to sexual assault, robbery and other harmful actions.
By thinking ahead and having a plan, a group of friends can reduce the risks of drink spiking. Some general safety precautions can lessen your chance of being a victim and increase your safety when you are out having fun.
Make your plans in advance
Plan where you are going and how you will get home. For example:
- tell someone where you are going
- decide on a place to meet at the end of the night
- carry the mobile phone numbers of your trusted friends
- encourage one person in the group to be the 'designated driver' for the evening
Keep track of your drinks
Sometimes people think they have been 'spiked' when really they have had more alcoholic drinks than they thought. Be aware of the number of alcohol drinks you are consuming. Drinks can be spiked through the addition of more alcohol than you have requested, for example double or triple shots or the addition of tasteless alcohol. It is important to be alert to situations where your drink could be altered without your permission:
- never accept drinks from strangers
- never leave drinks unattended, for example when you go to the dance floor, the toilet or become involved in a conversation
- if someone offers you a drink, go with them to the bar or the place where the alcohol is being served
- make sure you can see the drink being poured or opened
- avoid sharing drinks
Do not isolate yourself
If you are on your own in a bar or club and feel 'out of it':
- phone someone you trust
- seek assistance from venue staff
- do not attempt to leave on your own
- do not isolate yourself from friends or staff by going to the toilets alone
- remember that it could be unsafe to go home alone or with someone you have just met
Look after your friends
Going out with trusted friends and looking out for each other is a good way of staying safe:
- let your friends know you are leaving when you are finished for the night
- if you see a friend leaving with someone new, see if they are okay
- thank your friend for being the 'designated' driver and offer to take a turn next time
- if possible, use a supervised taxi rank and travel together splitting the cost
- walk in a group
- keep to main streets and well-lit areas
- stay with a person who feels unwell and get them to a safe place
- if the person is unconscious or vomiting, seek immediate medical assistance by calling an ambulance on Triple Zero '000'
Take action immediately
There are a range of reactions to a spiked drink. For example, you may feel suddenly drowsy, unbalanced or "out of it", start vomiting, lose consciousness, experience muscle spasms or have respiratory difficulties. Do not wait and hope it will pass:
- if you start to feel very confused, sick, faint or uncoordinated, tell a trusted friend or staff at the venue
- alert someone you trust, and ask them to take you to a safe place
- if you are alone or cannot locate your friends, contact bar or security staff or the police
- tell the host of the party or bar staff if you see spiking happening
Seek support when something goes wrong
If you think you have been assaulted or raped, it is important to:
- tell a friend or family members
- call an ambulance or go to a doctor, a hospital or a Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA)
- they can provide support and will explain the options that are available for you
- give serious and immediate thought to contacting police
- provide urine and blood samples and ask that they be tested for the presence of traces of certain drugs. This must be done immediately after the suspected spiking
Find out more and be prepared
The following organisations are good sources for more detailed information and assistance if you are concerned about drink spiking.
Crime Stoppers is an innovative program to help reduce crime in the community. It relies on cooperation between the police, media and general community to link information about crime.
Members of the public who have information about any crime, including drug related crime, can ring the Crime Stoppers number and give information to police 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All callers can remain anonymous and cash rewards are offered for information which leads to an arrest.
The Crime Stoppers telephone equipment does NOT include the caller number and calls are not recorded.
Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Australian Drug Foundation
The Australian Drug Foundation is a non-government, non-profit organisation committed to reducing the harm caused by alcohol and drug use. The Foundation produces pamphlets, books and videos about drug issues and runs a wide range of programs aimed at preventing alcohol and drug problems in the community.
Centre Against Sexual Assault – local or CASA House (Melbourne)
CASA House is a government funded organisation which provides services on a 24 hour basis. It provides victims of sexual assault with counselling, follow up support and an advocacy service.
3rd Floor, Queen Victoria Women's Centre
210 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Counselling and Support Line: (business hours): 9635 3610
Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (after hours)
Counselling and support lines: 9349 1766
Freecall throughout Victoria: 1800 806 292
Reviewed 08 April 2019