Growing concern mounts over the rise in drink spiking at universities across the country.

As the 'spiking epidemic' continues to grow, Immy Brown shares a personal story surrounding a drink spiking incident and urges clubs and institutions to do more to prevent these incidents from reoccurring.

Immy Brown
21st October 2021
With the recent news of spiking via injection at nightclubs in Liverpool and Edinburgh, it is no secret that enjoying a night out with friends has become difficult in university cities. In Newcastle alone, the rise of spiking has resulted in female students feeling “unsafe, unheard, and unprotected”. This leaves the question – how do we protect ourselves and what can we do to change this terrifying truth?

Whilst on a night out last Tuesday, two of my friends were spiked in Market Shaker - both ending up in the Royal Victoria Infirmary. Despite her clearly unresponsive state, taxis refused to take my friend, believing her to be simply too drunk. The taxi only took us when a security guard informed them that she had fallen over as a result of spiking and would later need her head glued together. 

Despite “how terrifying it is having no control over your body and waking up not remembering a thing”, the bar has still not replied to my friend’s message informing them what happened, despite them being active on social media. This conveys the importance of opening up the conversation surrounding spiking. A change in attitude over its importance simply must happen!

Upon my other friend’s arrival at the hospital, she was asked if she had come from Market Shaker, again indicating the severity of this crime as hospitals are clearly inundated with victims of spiking each night. What seems like an unfortunate night is sadly all too common in the streets of Newcastle, with countless stories of spiking across clubs and bars in the last week alone.

A misconception surrounding spiking is that it only happens to women and girls in isolated groups, yet in my friends’ instance, we were in a group of around ten, with male friends close by. The reason I mention my friends’ stories, is to stress the importance of looking out for those around you. Whether you know them or not, it is vital that we learn to notice signs that drinks may have been tampered with.

Image credit: Pixabay

Typical signs of a spiked drink may include a foggy appearance, excessive bubbles, or even a change in colour. However, it can be difficult to spot, particularly in a club environment, which is why it's vital that clubs provide test kits and higher security measures.

More needs to be done to address this issue, and this all starts from having conversations. Education surrounding drink spiking and how to spot it is desperately needed for bar staff and bouncers working in clubs. Students should be able to feel safe on nights out and not suffocated by a cloud of paranoia. In coming to university, spiking needs to be a topic that people are exposed to, as many don’t hear about it until someone they know has experienced it. A short educational course in induction week focusing on recognising signs and steps of what to do if someone has been spiked would allow students to feel prepared, heard and protected amidst an experience attempting to isolate. 

'We need to change the narrative of blame around spiking. This cowardly act lies in the perpetrator’s control – not yours.'

Whilst it is so important to keep an eye on your drink, I want to stress today that if you are spiked it is NOT YOUR FAULT. You have done nothing wrong, and there are people who want to listen and want to support you.

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