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Spiking is when someone administers a legal or illegal substance to a person without their knowledge or consent – this can be via drinks, vapes and sometimes food such as brownies or sweets. It can include putting alcohol into a non-alcoholic drink or slipping prescription or illegal drugs (such as GHB, GBL, MDMA or Ket) into a drink. Vapes have been found to be spiked with Spice, MDMA, GBL and Xylazine, spiking is a criminal offence and can result in up to 10 years in prison.

It is hard to tell whether a drink/food/vape has been spiked, as substances used for spiking usually have no smell or colour. Needle spiking (‘injection spiking’) is where someone injects a victim with a substance without their consent or knowledge.

See it –  if you see anything suspicious act straight away to ensure we catch out spikers. Stay with the person and ensure they are safe and call for medical help if they become seriously unwell or pass out.

Test it –  Try and keep the drink/spiked item as evidence, some venues will have drink testing kit or you be safe and carry

Report it – This can be via 101, or via local police website, or to staff if you at a venue or club. Stay with the person. If their condition gets worse, seek medical help, but hospitals do not test for spiking – only the police can do that. If there has been any assault ring 999. Police will test for spiking up to 7 days afterwards, but as soon as possible is best for detection and for them to gather evidence (CCTV etc). If you don’t want to go to the police. Please  report anonymously to Crime stoppers  0800 555 111

Support – being spiked can lead to trauma and anxiety and well as physical effects that can last for several days. has a 24 hour helpline 365 days a year.


Anyone – it is estimated that spiking happens to one in 10 students of all orientations

Any drink – remember any drink as well as vapes can bespiked

Anywhere – spiking happens at house parties as well as clubs, pubs and festivals

Spiking someone in any way  is illegal (up to 10 years in jail), but people who have been spiked often don’t report it. We want to change that – so those spiking others get caught.

Everyone should feel safe to enjoy themselves without worrying about being spiked and nine out of ten people do, but surveys show that one in 10 young adults think they have had their drink spiked, so stay aware – for your friends too. The drugs used for spiking don’t smell or taste either, so many people don’t realise that they have been spiked until later.

Spiking – how do I know?

You can’t tell from the smell or taste if a drink has been spiked, the ice doesn’t sink either. It’s not always easy to spot the signs and symptoms of spiking either because they’re similar to being very drunk, so never presume someone is drunk if their behaviour changes, take them to a safe space and ask for help. 

  • Signs include confusion, black out or passing out, nausea or being sick, A sudden change in behaviour (e.g. Being okay then seeming extremely drunk very quickly) , difficulty speaking, problems with balance, movement and coordination, hallucinations & paranoia.

Often it won’t be until the next day that someone will realise what has happened, reporting it as soon as possible is key to ensure a rapid urine or blood test and for any evidence to be found.

What should you do if you think you’ve been spiked?

drink spiking image

It can be difficult to recognise the symptoms, but if you do you should: 

  • Tell someone you trust and ask them to stay with you.  
  • If you are in a bar or club, tell a member of staff or security.  Ask for the drink to be tested and for them to keep it as evidence.
  • If you feel in danger or unwell call 999. You can also text 999 if you’re registered for text support.  
  • If you feel able and comfortable to, make a report to the police as soon as possible via 101. Some substances used for spiking can’t be detected after 72 hours or even 12 hours, so doing this as early as possible can help the police gather evidence and look at CCTV.  
  • Being spiked can be very traumatic . For help, contact Victim Support via: 08 08 16 89 111  and services such as Rape Crisis provide support and advice to people who’ve experienced sexual assault and violence.  There are additional sources of help and support for here.

How can I help prevent being spiked

Spiking should not happen and having a drink spiked is never your fault. Here are some things you and your friends can do to try and keep yourself safe from spiking:  

  1. Go out with trusted friends and look out for each other.
  2. Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have a locator on such as snapchat or findmyfriends.
  3. It’s safer to not accept a drink from someone you don’t know well, but otherwise take the drink from the server directly.
  4. Don’t leave your drinks, alcoholic or otherwise unattended.
  5. Consider sticking to bottled drinks and avoiding punch bowls or jugs of cocktails.
  6. Don’t give out your address/ number to someone you’ve just met.
  7. If you think your drink has been tampered with, don’t drink it – tell a trusted friend or relative immediately.
  8. Before going out, let someone know where you’re going and what time you expect to be home
  9. Make plans for your journey home, if possible before you head out.
  10. Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol, especially in unfamiliar situations. You could lose control, make risky decisions and become less aware of danger.
  11. If you see someone acting unusually or trying to add something to someone’s drink, report them immediately. 
  12. Be aware of what’s going on around you and try to stay in control. Also be aware of your date’s ability to consent to sex – you may become guilty of committing rape if the other person is not in a condition to respond or react
  13. When in bars or clubs, get your drink directly from the bartender. Keep your eyes on your order.
  14. Remember that Spiking is common at private parties, not just bars and clubs and that any drink can be spiked alcoholic or not
  15. A third of vapes on sale are illegal, so beware of trying other peoples vapes or accepting a free one. If buying a vape check the label, legal max strength is 20mg/ml or 2% and max tank size 2ml. If this isn’t the case, it is illegal and anything can be in the vape.

How can I support someone who I think has been spiked?

It can be very distressing to see the signs and symptoms of a friend being spiked. Try to stay as calm as possible: 

  • Support them to a safe space and stay with them – call another friend person to help if you can. 
  • If you are in a bar or club, tell a member of staff or security.  
  • Try to prevent your friend from drinking any more alcohol. 
  • Keep talking to your friend to reassure them. 
  • Don’t let them go home on their own, or with anyone they don’t know and trust. 
  • Call an ambulance or take them to A and E if they get worse. 
  • Support them to take a drug test – Although medical help should be the priority via 111, or in an emergency 999, it is the police who conduct drug testing for spiking incidents. Police testing is done by taking a non-invasive urine sample. Some drugs can leave the body in a very short time so it is important to test as soon as possible. Other drugs remain in the body longer, so testing will still be considered up to seven days after the incident. Full test results take approximately three weeks but in some areas additional fast time tests may be conducted. The  local police force can provide further information on testing initiatives in your area.
  • Always report to the police – In an emergency (for example if the perpetrator is still present) call 999; otherwise report online or call 101. Spiking is a criminal offence, and all types of spiking incidents will be recorded.
    • Early reporting will also help preserve additional evidence e.g. securing drinks, CCTV, witness details etc.  Only then can we  know the nature and scale of the problem.
    • Spiking is never the victim’s fault and asking victims to speak out will help end spiking and stop it happening to other people. victims want to stop it happening to other people. Information given will be used to catch out spikers.  
    • While the police do not condone the taking of illegal drugs, it is not a crime to have them in someone’s system, so their focus on identifying offenders that are committing spiking related crimes.  
  • If you, or someone you know, has had their drink spiked we aim to gather evidence to show the extent of spiking and where it is happening. Please help us to stop spiking by telling us about your case via  or
Drink spiking factsheet

Other help and support

If you suspect you may have been sexually assaulted we advise you to visit your local SARC as soon as possible, their specially trained staff will support you at every stage. A full list and contact details can be found here:

Rape Crisis – information, help and support after sexual abuse, rape and all forms of sexual violence. The Rape Crisis national freephone helpline operates 12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year. 0808 802 9999

Victim support helps people affected by all types of crime and provides free confidential support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for people affected by crime and traumatic events — regardless of whether they have reported the crime to the police

Victim Support UK
(independent charity)
Tel – 08 08 16 89 111 (FREEPHONE)

Victim Support Scotland
Tel – 08 00 16 01 985 (FREEPHONE)

Victim Support NI
Tel – 02 89 02 43 133 (FREEPHONE)

For further help and support, please contact

Read next Helping someone who is drunk

See our downloadable resources:

drink spiking poster
drink spiking information card