The musings of a fourth year English medical student

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Spiked

Here is a comprehensive guide as to what to do if you or a friend has been spiked.
Most of the info here is taken from the NHS website and I highly recommend it for further information here.

I'd heard a lot about people being spiked at clubs and bars, but never thought much of it. I'd seen people reacting badly to spiking when I've been out, but this weekend was the first time I witnessed a friend go through it. It's so important that people learn what to do if this happens as the consequences are very unpredictable. Drugs used to spike drinks can even induce a coma or death.

It can sometimes be hard to tell if someone has been spiked because the symptoms are similar to being too drunk. However, if you know the person well and what they're like on a night out and what their alcohol tolerance is, any behaviour that is more severe or different could indicate that they've been spiked. The drugs used take roughly 15-30 minutes to kick in, so this can be used to gage which venue you were at when someone was spiked. Symptoms include:
-Lowered inhibitions
-Difficulty concentrating or speaking
-Loss of balance and finding it hard to move
-Visual problems, particularly blurred vision
-Memory loss or blackouts
-Feeling confused or disorientated, particularly after waking up
-Hallucinations
-Vomiting and nausea
-Unconsciousness

If you or someone around you has been spiked, alert the group you're with of what's going on. It's important to leave the venue you're at and either go home or to A&E depending on the severity of the symptoms. If the spiked person collapses or starts vomiting at the club/bar, alert a member of staff. If you can't trust anyone, call someone who can help you out and/or provide transport. Don't accept help from strangers if they try to take you home. Really, the best thing to do is to go to A&E. Most helpful friends may be drunk, too, and could miss vital signs that a person's health is deteriorating. If you haven't gone to A&E and the symptoms begin to exacerbate, go there now. If you haven't gone to A&E it is really important that the person who is spiked has constant attention, help and monitoring. They may need someone to help them walk, go to the toilet, to be sick without getting it down themselves, and to get back home and into bed. They also need to be monitored when sleeping. It sounds grim but 16-25 year olds are at the highest risk of drowning in their own sick. The person who has been spiked needs monitoring until the drugs have left their system, roughly 72 hours later.

The NHS strongly advises calling the police ASAP. Blood and urine samples will be taken and need to be done before exceeding 72 hours after the incident. 

Unfortunately, spiking makes people at risk of sexual and physical assault. If you think you or the person who has been spiked has then been raped or assaulted, contact the police ASAP. Medical attention should be sought for emergency contraception for women, and to test for STIs. Sexual abuse can be mentally scarring, and there is a lot of support for this as well:
Rape Crisis national free phone help line 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year). N.B the NHS website has mixed up the details of these sites so I have amended them here on the blogpost
Sexual health clinics in your area
NHS 1111

Furthermore, how can we avoid getting spiked? 
-Never leave a drink unattended and keep an eye on other friends' drinks
-Don't accept a drink from someone you don't know
-Do not share personal details like your address
-Buy bottled drinks rather than drinks that bartenders have to prepare
-If you think your drink has been spiked but aren't sure, don't drink it
-Before you go out, tell someone where you're going and when you should be back
-Avoiding taking expensive equipment as this can make you a target to thieves who may spike you
-Assess where nearby A&E and medical help is, particularly if you're abroad

Going out clubbing is so much fun and for many students it is an integral part of their social lives. Personally I don't often buy drinks at clubs anyway because they are expensive and always watered down. Now I feel even more inclined not to buy them after seeing what the consequences can be. 

Apart from that it was a fantastic weekend and my friend is doing just fine. One week till Easter, hooray!!!
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