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Spiking symptoms: signs you’ve been spiked by drink or injection, how you feel the day after, and what to do

There have been a number of reports of women being spiked via injection across the UK in recent weeks, with others speaking out about their experience of being spiked via drink and what to watch out for.

But what is spiking and what are the symptoms?

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Here’s what you need to know.

What is spiking?

Drink spiking is when someone has added something, for example, alcohol or drugs, to your drink, without you knowing, which may affect the way you act or how you behave.

Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor notes that if you or one of your friends are on a night out and are having a different reaction to alcohol than normal, or you start to feel ‘off’, there is a chance you could have been spiked.

A spiked drink might not look, smell or taste any different, and could take 15-30 minutes before you see any effect, but these effects could last for several hours.

The drugs used often make you feel sleepy, weak, and you may not be aware of what is going on around you or what is happening to you.

What are the symptoms of spiking?

Symptoms can depend on the type and amount of drug or alcohol used, how much alcohol you have had to drink, if you are taking medication, and your body size and age.

Common symptoms can include:

  • Feeling drunker
  • Loss of balance
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion - especially the next day or after waking up
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Hallucinations 
  • Tiredness
  • Visual problems, for example, blurred vision
  • Paranoia (a feeling of fear or distrust of others)
  • Amnesia (loss of memory) - especially about things that have happened recently

What should you do if you think you or someone else has been spiked?

If you believe you or someone else has been spiked, you should tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff immediately.

You should try to stay with the person who has been spiked and keep talking to them.

Lloyds Online Doctors says to never go home by yourself if you think you’ve been spiked and don’t allow anyone to leave the venue with someone they don’t know or trust.

You should also stop drinking immediately if you think you’ve been spiked, as the mix of drugs and alcohol could be dangerous.

Be prepared to call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates and  at A&E you should tell the medical staff that you suspect the victim has been spiked, as they will then be able to conduct urine and blood tests to determine which drugs are in their system.

What is spiking via injection?

There has been a recent increase in reports of spiking via injection, rather than drink spiking, with bruising at the injection site also reported as a symptom.

Sarah Crew from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) confirmed that a “number” of forces across the country are now investigating reports of spiking done with injections.

Spiking via injections is not only dangerous because of the drug used, but if a needle is being reused, there’s a risk you could catch something from the other people who’ve been injected with that needle.

Dr Shirin Lakhani noted that the symptoms of injection spiking “depends largely on what substance is being injected”, but that symptoms from drink spiking and spiking via injection can be “extremely similar for both”.