Educate Yourself

Drink Spiking Dangers

WHAT IS DRINK SPIKING

THE MOTIVE BEHIND IT

Drink spiking is generally referred to as the motive behind the sinister agenda to entrap men and women by spiking their drinks with illicit substances. With advancements in drug development that’s led to the production of clear and tasteless substances, a victim may never know whether their drink has been spiked until either (a) symptoms develop common to drink spiking, or (b) the victim passes out and later finds themselves in an unknown location with or without the perpetrator.

The most common reasons for drink spiking can be out of revenge for the person who has been spiked, sometimes as a joke amongst friends, or even due to fallouts with family members or friends. Although sexual assault, rape and theft are also considered cause for drink spiking. In Australia, spiking a persons drink with an illicit substance is illegal, and people caught attempting or assisting such crimes can face substantial fines and also imprisonment.

HOW DRINK SPIKING OCCURS

METHODS USED BY PERPETRATORS TO TARGET THEIR VICTIMS

Commonly, a victim will turn away from their drink for a brief moment or will leave their drink unattended, giving a perpetrator the opportunity to slip a drug into their victims drink without them even knowing. Between 10-30 minutes later, the victim may then succumb to the effects of the drugs, leaving them vulnerable to theft, rape and sexual assault.

Drink spiking is not just limited to alcoholic drinks as it can also occur through beverages such as coffee, juice, tea, and soft drinks, for example. Colourless and tasteless drugs such as GHB, Ketamine and Rohypnol® can also be used to spike the beverages mentioned above as they leave no visible traces and can be slipped into a drink undetected.

However, not all drink spiking incidents are the results of drug-related spiking, as perpetrators have been known to bribe bar waiters and waitresses into spiking a victims drink with a double or triple shot of vodka. They will often do this to avoid getting caught. This method of drink spiking is more common than thought, hence why you should never accept a drink from another person unless you either know them or don’t sense any danger from the gesture.

SAY NO TO DRINK SPIKING

DRINK SPIKING STATISTICS

A HIDDEN, UNREPORTED EPIDEMIC

Unfortunately, statistics for drink spiking are at an all-time low. According to a 2004 research report conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology, commissioned by the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, on behalf of the Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs, the research findings showed an ‘estimated figure of 3000 – 4000 suspected incidents between July 2002 and June 2003’ related to drink spiking. Most cases remain unreported due to issues such as memory loss, fear, shame or embarrassment resulting from an encounter.1 You can download and view the full report conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology here, and read more about barriers to reporting and prosecuting sexual offences here.

SAY NO TO DATE RAPE

HOW TO PREVENT IT

BE VIGILANT AT ALL TIMES

Whether you are heading out for the day, evening or night, it always pays to be on alert for any suspicious behaviour. When out, always stay in groups, keep an eye out for your friends and family at all times, and protect yourself by following the list of precautions below. We’d recommend setting up your Medical ID if you haven’t already done so as it could save your life during an emergency. Read more about setting up your Medical ID on your mobile device here.

Below are our top six tips for staying safe whilst out for a social event:

(1) Never accept drinks from strangers, even if they have offered one as a “goodwill” gesture.
(2) Never leave your drinks unattended at any time.
(3) If you have to ask someone to watch your drink, make sure it’s someone you trust.

(4) If you are drinking from a bottle, always open it yourself. Place your thumb over the bottle top when not consuming the beverage.
(5) Always watch your drinks being poured at the bar to prevent drink spiking through double or triple shots of vodka, among other substances.
(6) Stay in groups at all times and be on alert for any symptoms of drink spiking being exhibited by your friends or yourself.

How do you know if you have been drink-spiked? Look for these common signs and symptoms below:

(
1) Does the drink taste different to what it normally tastes?
(2) Has your drink been moved from where you previously left it?
(3) If you were using a straw, has it been taken out of the beverage?
(4) Is there odd bubbling or fizzing at the top or bottom of the beverage?

(5) Is there anything floating at the top of the drink?

If you believe you have been drink-spiked, seek medical attention immediately. You can view the contact details for emergency services by country here. Read more about signs and symptoms of drink spiking below.

DRINK SPIKING PENALTIES

IN AUSTRALIA

Drink spiking is illegal in all Australian states and territories, even if the drink is not consumed and does not cause harm to the victim.2 Penalties for drink spiking can include fines and imprisonment for up to 25 years, with a possible life imprisonment sentence. View each Australian state below for more information about drinking spiking laws and penalties. If you’re an international visitor, you can research local, state and federal laws by visiting your official state/country/territory government website. View Disclaimer

Australian Capital Territory legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Part 2, Section 27 (Acts endangering life etc); Section 28 (Acts endangering health etc) of the Crimes Act 1900, deals with administering an intoxicating substance for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm and/or injury, carrying fines and/or an imprisonment term between 2 to 10 years. View document

New South Wales legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Part 3, Division 6, Section 38 (Using intoxicating substance to commit an indictable offence); Section 38A (Spiking drink or food); Section 39 (Using poison etc to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm); Section 41 (Administering poison etc with the intent to injure or annoy); of the Crimes Act 1900, deals with administering an intoxicating substance for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm and/or injury, carrying fines and/or an imprisonment term between 5 to 25 years. View document

Northern Territory legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Part 6, Division 4, Section 176 (Stupefying in order to commit an indictable offence); Section 176A (Drink or food spiking); Section 177 (Acts intended to cause serious harm or prevent apprehension); of the Criminal Code Act, deals with administering an intoxicating substance for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm and/or injury, carrying fines and/or imprisonment for life. View document

Queensland legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Part 5, Chapter 29, Section 316 (Stupefying in order to commit indictable offence); Section 316A (Unlawful drink spiking); Section 322 (Administering poison with intent to harm); of the Criminal Code Act 1899, deals with administering an intoxicating substance for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm and/or injury, carrying fines and/or an imprisonment term between 7 to 14 years. View document

South Australian legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Division 7A, Section 29 (Acts endangering life or creating risk or bodily harm); Division 7C, Section 32 (Prohibition of manufacture sale etc of drug of dependence or prohibited substance); of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, deals with drug and/or intoxicating substance administering for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm and/or injury, carrying fines and/or an imprisonment term between 5 to 15 years. View document

(2) Division 4, Part 4, Section 18.1d (Sale, supply, administration and possession of prescription drugs) of the Controlled Substances Act 1984, deals with prescription drug administering, handling and supplying for acts such as drink spiking, carrying fines and/or a maximum imprisonment term of 2 years. View document

Tasmanian legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Section 169 (Administering drug to facilitate offence); Section 175 (Unlawfully administering position the the intent to harm); Section 176 (Administering a noxious thing); of the Criminal Code Act 1924, deals with drug and/or intoxicating substance administering for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm and/or injury, carrying fines and/or a maximum imprisonment term of 21 years for all offences listed above. View document

(2) Division 3, Section 24 (Possessing, using or administering controlled drug) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001, deals with drug administering for acts such as drink spiking, carrying fines and/or a maximum imprisonment of 2 years. View document

Victorian legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Division 1, Section 19 (Offence to administer certain substances); Division 1, Section 22 (Conduct endangering life); Division 1, Section 23 (Conduct endangering persons); Division 8E, Section 53 (Administration of drugs etc.); of the Crimes Act 1958, deals with drug and/or intoxicating substance administering for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm and/or injury, carrying fines and/or an imprisonment term between 5 to 10 years. View document

(2) Part 5, Section 74 (Introduction of a drug of dependence into the body of another person) of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, deals with drug and/or intoxicating substance administering without the victims’ authorisation or knowledge, carrying fines and/or a maximum imprisonment term of 1 year. View document

(3) Division 4B, Section 41H of the Victorian Summary Offences Act 1966 makes it an offence to give a person food or drink that, unknown to that person, contains an intoxicating substance. The offender must intend that the victim suffer harm by consuming the food or drink. The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment. The victim need not suffer harm for this offence to be established. If the victim does, in fact, suffer harm or is subjected to a sexual assault, it is likely that the offender will be guilty of another, more serious, offence. View document

(4) Division 8D, Section 55 of the Victorian Crimes (Sexual Offences) Act 1980, deals with drug administering for acts such as drink spiking and sexual assault. This section outlines the offences of administering a drug with intent to render a person incapable of resistance, thereby enabling the offender to take part in an act of sexual penetration with that person (punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment) or to commit an indecent act with that person (5 years imprisonment). View document

Western Australian legislation regarding drink spiking through drugs, alcohol or other intoxicating substance administration is as follows:

(1) Part 4, Section 192 (Procuring person to have unlawful carnal knowledge by threats, fraud, or administering drugs); Part 5, Section 222 (“Assault”, definition of); Section 223 (Assaults unlawful); Section 293 (Stupefying in order to commit indictable offence etc.); Section 294 (Acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm or prevent arrest); Section 304 (Acts or omissions causing bodily harm or danger); Section 317 (Assaults occasioning bodily harm); of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913, deals with drug and/or intoxicating substance administering for acts such as drink spiking in order to cause serious harm, injury and/or assault, carrying fines and/or an imprisonment term between 2 to 20 years. View document

Types Of Drugs

Signs & Symptoms

COMMON DRUG TYPES

SUBSTANCES USED IN DRINK SPIKING

Drug and alcohol substances used in drink spiking vary between venues. However, did you know that alcohol is the number one choice for drink spiking? Spirits like Vodka are clear, tasteless and odourless compared to other known substances, maximising the opportunity for sabotage by a perpetrator. As Vodka contains 37-40% of alcohol in a standard shot, two or three shots added to a standard drink can have a tremendous effect on the person consuming it.

Below is a list of some common drug and alcohol substances used in drink spiking:

Drugs Alcohol
Benzodiazepines Vodka
GHB
Ketamine
Rohypnol®

SYMPTOMS OF DRINK SPIKING

LOOK FOR THESE COMMON SIDE EFFECTS

Drink spiking can happen in a split second without the victim even knowing. It’s important to identify the signs and symptoms of drink spiking as soon as possible to avoid serious injuries. If you believe that you or someone you know has been drink-spiked, call emergency services or go to the emergency department of the closest hospital as soon as possible. You can request a urine or blood drug test from your doctor to detect any presence of drugs in your body as it can take up to 48 hours for certain drugs to pass through your body.

Below is a list of some common side effects of drink spiking:

Common side effects Potential dangers
Decreased heart rate & respiration Alcohol poisoning
Decreased inhibitions Loss of consciousness
Feeling dizzy, drowsiness, ill, faint or sleepy Paralysis
Feeling more drunk vs number of drinks consumed Permanent brain damage
Loss of memory Death
Paranoia & hallucinations
Poor motor skills & speech

References:

(1) Australian Institute of Criminology (2004). National Project on Drink Spiking: Investigating the nature and extent of drink spiking in Australia. Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy, Commonwealth of Australia, pp. 29 – 50.

(2) Higgins, C. (2008). Crimes Legislation Amendment (Food and Drink Spiking) Bill 2008. Melbourne: Parliamentary Library. (Copy & paste link into browser. Direct link disabled.)

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