August 13, 2021 | HFerris | Blog

How to Stay Safe in Nightclubs


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People in a nightclub

With the majority of covid-19 restrictions lifted, the nightclubs of Britain have been able to reopen, much to the delight of young people around the country. While its fantastic news that the country is returning to normal, going back into nightclubs has its risks, and not just because of coronavirus.


Drink Spiking

This is unfortunately a practice that targets mostly women. Someone can spike your drink to make you more vulnerable, this could be done as a practical joke, but sometimes the intentions are a lot more sinister, sexual assault for example. Drink spiking is often not reported, so it’s difficult to know the true extent of these events. People often feel too embarrassed to tell anyone if they think their drink has been spiked as it can cause memory loss. Not remembering parts of the night can make it difficult to recall events with any certainty. It can be a very frightening experience and it’s important that you learn to recognise the signs that your drink has been spiked. It’s equally as important that you know how to spot if someone else has been spiked and how to help them.


What are Drinks Spiked With?

Although you have mostly heard about drinks being spiked with drugs such as Rohypnol, the NHS says that alcohol is actually the most common thing to be used in drink spiking. Shots of alcohol can be added to drinks to make them stronger; this would cause the victim to get drunker more quickly or unexpectedly.

The most commonly known drugs that are used to spike drinks are Rohypnol (roofies) or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), these are known as ‘date rape’ drugs. This is because they can sedate or incapacitate victims, so they are easier to assault.

It’s extremely important to know that these ‘date rape drugs’ are mostly colourless, odourless and tasteless, so are very hard to notice. They also leave the body very quickly, which makes them hard to detect on blood or any other medical tests.


Symptoms of Drink Spiking

It’s important to know what the symptoms of drink spiking are. They can vary depending on what the drink has been spiked with. Symptoms can include;

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

Outside factors will affect what symptoms you experience when you’ve had your drink spike; what you’ve been drinking, your size and weight and how much you’ve drank will all cause variations in your symptoms. If your drink has been spiked then you are unlikely to notice seeing as there will be no difference in the taste or colour of your drink. Most date rape drugs will take 15-20 minutes to take effect and the symptoms can last for hours. If you suspect your drink has been spiked and are feeling any symptoms, then get help straight away.


Drink Spiking Statistics 2015 – 2019

England and Wales

2,650 reported incidents of drink spiking.

71.6% of victims were women.

75% of victims were between the ages of 18 and 40.

10% of victims were under the age of 18.

15% of victims were over the age of 40.



137 reported incidents of drink spiking.

81.8% of victims were women.

78% of victims were between the ages of 18 and 40.

There were 2 alleged victims aged under 9.


Northern Ireland

53 reported incidents in of drink spiking.

67.9% of victims were women.

82% of victims were between the ages of 18 and 40.

There were 2 victims aged under 18.


What to Do if You Think a Friend Has Been Spiked

If your friend is showing any of the symptoms of having their drinks spiked, then there are some things you can do to help. It’s important to tell the bar or club manager or a member of staff such as the bouncer. They should be able to help you get your friend to a safe spot.

Don’t leave your friend alone, if they have been spiked for the purpose of assault, then it’s important they are not on their own at any time. If their condition continues to get worse then you need to call an ambulance, it’s better to be safe than sorry in these situations, so have them seen by a medical professional to make sure everything is ok. It might seems obvious but don’t let them drink any more alcohol, as this can make the symptoms worse.


Avoiding Drink Spiking

Drink spiking is NEVER the victim’s fault and whilst you should always look to just have fun when you go out, considering your safety will only help to keep your night a good one. Whilst some Nightclubs have started giving out drink stoppers for the top of bottles to prevent someone being able to drop something into your drink, there are a few things that you can be aware of to avoid getting your drink spiked.


How to Avoid Drink Spiking

1.      Always go to the bar with a friend

Two eyes are better than one and when you’re on your own it’s easy to get distracted and unfortunately it only takes a couple of seconds for someone to drop something into your drink. Having a friend with you acts as a guard when you might be reaching over to pay and not thinking about your drink.


2.      Cover your drinks

Obviously easier to do if you’re drinking from the bottle than a glass but where you can make sure that your drink is covered. This can be as simple as keeping your thumb over the top of the bottle or holding a glass from the top rather than the side.


3.      Don’t accept drinks from strangers

This might seem obvious, but it is still important to consider when out and about. You should always look to purchase your own drink or if you do accept a drink from someone else, make sure it is from someone you trust and that you have watched the bartender make it.


4.      Never leave your drink unattended

Once again, seems like pretty obvious advice but even leaving your drinks with friends on a table can be a bit dangerous. People can easily get distracted and might not always be paying attention to your drink.

We suggest finishing your drink before heading to the toilets or the smoking area, or if you do leave your drink just buy a new one once you come back. Obviously apply caution with this and don’t down a full drink.


5.      Keep an eye on your drink for changes

Whether it has moved, is now missing the straw has turned a funny colour it wasn’t before or is frizzing, don’t risk taking a sip. Although you don’t want to be paranoid, it is always better to be safe than sorry and it can only take a moment for someone to drop something in your drink.

You can also find testing kits with strips that can detect certain drugs, but these are often unreliable and don’t always work. They also don’t test for every kind of drug and won’t detect any extra alcohol in your drink.