The Spike” How to avoid it

Your drink can be spiked in a matter of seconds, but don’t be quick to assume you’re not a target.

NO DRINK IS SAFE: Any drink can get spiked in seconds. Photo: Valerie Robinson

NO DRINK IS SAFE: Any drink can get spiked in seconds.
Photo: Valerie Robinson

It’s a casual night out with friends sitting around the bonfire. Around 8pm and after only a drink or two, you go to the bar. That is the last thing you remember before waking up at 3am, on the floor in your garage with no memory of how you got there.

In the past drink spiking was usually known for date rape, but it has now become an easy way to commit robbery. The targets have also shifted as guys have now become victims of the act according to Campus Health counsellor Nicole Barnes.

Often guys get spiked with the use of eye drops that can be bought over the counter. After they are drugged, they are confronted in the bathrooms where their belongings are taken, including their car keys which the thieves use to drive off with the victim’s vehicle.

She went on to say that “this is a common occurrence amongst young people.”

Reiner Runge, chairperson of Wits’ local social club Silly Buggers said people have been spiked at events on campus in the past.

“I know there have been incidences, where two students accused us of spiking their drinks, they were two girls and one guy,” said Runge. This particular incident that he was referring to took place two years ago.

“We completely rejected the claim … There are thousands of students and we can’t control what people are doing with their drinks, obviously from our side we don’t endorse spiking anyone’s drink.”

Runge has also worked in as a bartender in Greenside, and accounts how he has witnessed students being spiked there. “We had cases in Greenside where students would come in and they would order a drink … They would get completely smashed, they would throw up and be really sick but it wasn’t an account of having too much alcohol, it was something else at play.”

George Hunter, the head bartender at Braam’s Anti Est., also said he is aware that spiking does happen but has never witnessed it first-hand.

The effects of being spiked can be varied based on many factors like your size, weight and the effects of other substance that you have ingested.

Spotting if you or a friend has been spiked is difficult because the drugs used often can’t be tasted, seen or smelled.

Some symptoms of drink spiking include feeling sick or sleepy, dizzy or faint, feeling really drunk or confused even if you have only had a little alcohol to drink, passing out, waking up feeling uncomfortable and disorientated, or having blank spots in your memory.

Runge recommends wary students go in pairs to go get a drink and always being vigilant.

“It’s very easy to put something in someone’s drink … Watch what the bartender is doing with his hands, if there is anything fizzy in your drink apart from the froth of a beer for example, hand it over and do not leave your drink unattended.”

If you think your drink might have been spiked it is important to see a doctor. Either a urine or blood test can be used within 24 hours to detect traces of certain drugs.