(Image courtesy of MsSaraKelly via Flickr.com)
A STUDY commissioned by The Waterfront has shown that almost a third of students believe they have been spiked on nights out.
The online survey, filled in by 135 students, revealed an alarmingly high number of suspected spiking in Swansea, with 31% claiming it had happened to them.
Two thirds of those who thought they had been spiked were women.
Of those interviewed, 36 per cent of women believed they had been spiked and 25 per cent of men thought they had been.
Four people said they had been spiked in Oceana, twelve in Sin City, as well as 28 people believing they had been spiked in a venue on Wind Street.
The main number of respondents were third years, but a good balance of all year groups took part in the survey hosted by Survey Monkey.
Most respondents commented that they had only been spiked once, although five said that they had been spiked twice.
Two other survey respondents said they had been spiked more than five times.
Asked to share their experience, one respondent said: “No memory of the event, however friends have said my pupils were dilated, I had no control over my body but I was talking sense, followed by projectile vomiting. Friends took me home.
“Woke up very confused and still not 100%, went to hospital to be checked where they confirmed GHB in my system. Felt very low for weeks afterwards.”
Another participant who was spiked in a Wind Street club, said: “I became disorientated, and lost control of my legs. Luckily my male housemates carried me home, and sat with me all night. I couldn’t ask for help, as I couldn’t even talk.”
Another who was drinking with her spiker, unknown to her, said: “He bought me a drink and dared me to down it, after a while I realised there was something wrong and he told me that he had put MDMA in my drink.
“It was awful, I couldn’t move, the bouncers then were going to ring an ambulance but my friend came to pick me up, when I got home I passed out on my landing and my mum found me in the morning.”
Another reported: “Went home supported by my girlfriend. Feeling terribly drunk and nauseous having only had one beer.”
A further respondent said: “I felt out of control and could no longer hear properly. My friend took me home and looked after me. “
Very few cases of spiking are reported to the police and spiking is
difficult to prove as drugs like Rohypnol leave no trace once they have been eliminated from the bloodstream.
Students are being urged to report suspected cases of spiking immediately.
Research by Kent University in 2009 showed that students were likely to claim they had been spiked when they were unwilling to admit that they had drunk excessive amounts of alcohol.
The students’ union was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
A campaign headed by Swansea University Students’ Union and Trinity St David University to help combat drink spiking is expected to be launched in January.
Welfare officer Grimes says more can be done to combat spiking:
SPIKING is an issue facing every single one of us when we go out for a drink. Even in your local pub, you are still at risk.
Spiking occurs when a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, is added to your drink without you knowing about it. This may affect how you act around people.
The way you may feel will depend on the drug; you may feel drowsy or confused. You may also find it difficult to speak or move.
But spiking is a crime which is rarely reported to the police.
Rebecca Grimes, Swansea University’s Welfare Officer, said: “We are currently in the process of working out the best way to get the message out in respect of the risk of drinks being spiked.
“I recently had a meeting with the police and the Welfare Officer of Swansea Trinity St David and we are in the process of working out a strategy to increase awareness of how to keep yourself safe on nights out, a particular aspect of which is spiking of drinks.”
Statistics show that spiking is on the rise.
A spokesperson from South Wales Police said they were interested in raising awareness around spiking, but “have not had any reported incidents of drinking spiking in either the university campus or Swansea city centre.”
The process of getting a positive spiking result is difficult, with a report and tests having to be done in time for the drugs to still be present in the body.
Miss Grimes went on to say that more needs to be done: “I absolutely think more can be done. What I would say is that if you suspect you have been spiked, get in contact with the police as soon as possible, so statistics can start to be noted down about your experiences.
“We have ‘spikeys’ freely available from the full-time officers’ offices (drink stoppers which protect your bottled drinks from being spiked).
“If anyone is concerned about their safety on nights out, myself and the women’s officer (as well as every other FTO), are more than happy to discuss things with you and how we can make our union nights safer.”
How to identify spiking and prevent it happening to you:
DRINK spiking is the name given when a substance, usually drugs or alcohol, is added to your drink without you knowing.
It tends to affect the way you act around other people, and can lead to serious situations such as personal injury, physical or sexual assault, theft, or even rape.
It doesn’t just happen in pubs and clubs, but can occur in any public place, and even in your home, for example, at a party or barbeque.
There are numerous drugs that can be administered such as GBH and Rohypnol.
They are often clear, odourless and tasteless and can come in liquid, tablet, capsule or powder form.
The effects tend to make you feel nauseous, drowsy, intoxicated, or can even lead to unconsciousness.
They kick in very quickly and can last up to eight hours.
Whilst a large number of victims are women, men are just as much at risk of being spiked.
According to the Roofie Foundation, women aged from 30 – 50+ are most at risk from having their drink spiked.
It is unlikely you will be able to tell if your drink has been spiked until after the effects kick in, so students are urged to take the following steps:
•Never leave your drink unattended
•Never accept a drink from anyone you don’t trust
•Keep an eye on your friends’ drinks
•Do not drink leftover drinks
•Keep hold of your drink rather than leaving it on the side
•Consider sticking to bottles and hold your thumb over the opening when not drinking it
•Remember that if you’ve already been drinking, you may be less aware of any dangers
If you suspect someone has been spiked, it is always important to tell someone such as a friend or member of security.
Drink spiking is also a criminal offence, regardless of whether or not an attack was carried out, so it is vital you report it to the police.
For further information please visit wwww.nhs.uk/Conditions/Drink-spiking/Pages/Introduction.aspx