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Spiking Has No Gender Preference: Fighting Back

Trigger warning: this article contains an account of spiking that some readers may find distressing.

What is ‘spiking’ and who does it happen to?

When you type the word ‘spiking’ into Google News these days, and you’ll find stories of terrifying spiking-related incidents like these across the UK on a near-daily basis. Typically, most people assume spiking only happens to women however this stigma is incorrect. According to a recent survey from the Alcohol Education Trust (AET), up to 15% of women and 7% of men have been spiked with alcohol or drugs, while a 2021 YouGov poll found that one in nine women in the UK have had their drink spiked. Commonly. A substance usually gets put into the victims drink. However, the past year ‘needle spiking’ has been introduced where the victim gets injected with the substance.

A new YouGov survey shows that 10% of women say they have personally had a drink spiked. Meanwhile, 8% say someone in their family has had a drink spiked, while 10% say a friend has had a drink spiked. One in seven women (14%) say someone else they know has been a victim of spiking. In total, 35% of women say they have either had a drink spiked themselves or know someone who has, or both.

Among men, 5% say they have had a drink spiked, while 7% say members of their family have had their drink spiked. One in eight men (12%) say a friend of theirs has had their drink spiked and a further 11% say someone else they know has had a drink spiked. More than a quarter of men overall (28%) say they know someone who has had a drink spiked or have experienced it themselves.

What to look out for:

- Confusion

- Loss of inhibitions

- Exhaustion

- Nausea

- Vomiting

- Problems with visibility and balance

- Unconsciousness

There are steps to take to help reduce the risk of being spiked: use bottle stoppers, do not leave your drink unattended or accept one from a stranger, use a testing kit and report unusual behaviour to the police or bar staff.

Fighting back

In October and November 2021, women and university students across the UK decided to boycott bars and clubs across forty-five different cities, to raise awareness about the at large spiking problem. This was a peaceful protest to inform every one of the recent spiking problems. Most clubs have started offering covers which are places over the drinks the moment they are made reducing the risk of any substances entering the drink before drinking it.

The University of Exeter is currently offering drink safety test strips, while Nottingham Trent is funding and delivering bystander intervention training to staff in night-time city venues. These strategies will be monitored for effectiveness and considered by the new working group, along with other solutions being tested on campuses around the country. Nottingham Trent also offer a guide called ‘Boogie Safe’ where they explain all the do's and don'ts for those wanting to go on a night out.

Campaigner Mair Howells started a podcast called Pricks!’. Throughout the series, Howells makes it her mission to explore Britain’s spiking epidemic to find out how big the issue is, with insight from police, nurses, lawyers, psychologists and bar staff in a bid to challenge misconceptions around spiking and discover exactly what can be done to change things for the better. Most importantly, she hears from victims to understand the true, wide-reaching impact of spiking. presents a 5-part investigation into Britain's spiking epidemic, speaking to academics, doctors, the police, and victims, to understand the scale of spiking, who is behind it, and how we can stop it. Spreading awareness at such a large scale will help tackle this ongoing issue, she also got a government petition of almost 10,000 signatures. There is also a petition to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests upon entry has garnered 156,613 signatures at the time of writing, and will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Mainly, women are more aware of the dangers of spiking as a larger percentage of women compared to men appear to be spiked more often. However, it is important for men to also stay wary of these risks and may feel embarrassed to speak out if they believe this has happened to them. Coming together and protecting each other will help reduce the risk! Ring FRANK anytime and speak to a friendly adviser who's professionally trained to give you straight up, unbiased information about drugs and alcohol. It’s totally confidential – we won't ask for your name or repeat your conversation with others. And Spiking - Top tips to stay safe.


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