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Spiked Drink

What Are the Symptoms of Drink Spiking?

Drink spiking takes place when a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, is added to your drink without you knowing about it. The symptoms of drink spiking depend on the type of drug used. The effects also depend on the size and shape of a person, as well as the amount of the drink consumed, the age of the person and the amount of alcohol drank beforehand.

It is possible for any drugs to be slipped into drinks without knowledge. There are drugs that are pill-based, liquid and powder and many don’t have a smell or taste to them.

Date Rape Drink Spiking

Some of the most common drugs for spiking drinks are called date rape drugs. They make it harder for people to resist an attack. The most often used drugs for drink spiking are:

  • alcohol
  • gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL)
  • tranquilisers, normally benzodiazepines, including valium and rohypnol
  • ketamine

Date rape drugs generally start working very quickly. The duration of the effects will depend on how much of the drug is administered and if it the drug was used with other substances.  Generally, alcohol heightens the strength of the drugs, and can increase the side effects. Mixing the drugs with alcohol is extremely dangerous due to the anesthetic effect. You may become unconscious and in some cases it can cause death.

The symptoms for the common date rape drugs are similar and can include:

  • a light-headed or drowsy feeling
  • memory loss (amnesia) and black outs, not being able to remember parts of the evening.
  • reduced inhibitions
  • finding it hard to concentrate
  • disorientation and confusion
  • feeling confused or disorientated, especially if you have been asleep.
  • slurred speech
  • lack of muscle control and motor abilities
  • paranoia
  • feeling like you are floating or in a dreamy state
  • blurred vision
  • seeing, hearing or touching things that aren’t actually there
  • vomiting and nausea
  • unconsciousness

The common drugs used for date rape are described here.

Alcohol

The most common date rape drug used is alcohol. It is easily added to non-alcoholic drinks without knowledge and double measures are used easily instead of single ones. It becomes difficult to tell the amount you are drinking if you have already been drinking. The main factor for determining the effect of the drug is the amount drank.

Copious alcoholic amounts can lead to passing out and vomiting while asleep. Your body is only able to process one alcohol unit per hour, so the length of time it takes to leave the system is determined by the number of units you have drank.

Alcohol is the drug most commonly used to spike drinks as it is relatively cheap, legal and easily available. In many situations alcohol can be added to drinks without arousing suspicion.

Zoom Testing rapid saliva alcohol tests be used to detect the presence of alcohol in some drinks.

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate and Gamma-butyrolactone

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate is commonly referred to as GHB and is often found as a colorless, oily liquid. Some can find it in a powder form. Victims are affected by the smallest amounts of GHB and it quickly dissolves into drinks. It often gives a drink an unpleasant taste but when used in small doses and mixed with strong flavors, it often goes unnoticed.

GHB can cause vomiting, seizures, coma, respiratory arrest and even death. The side effects of GHB are intensified when mixed with other drugs or alcohol. When GHB is combined with alcohol, it is especially dangerous because the mixture of  the two depressants can lead to overdose

Zoom Testing now has a Date Rape Test Kit will screen your drink for GHB and Ketamine, two of the most common drink spike drugs.

Tranquillisers

There are hundreds of forms of tranquillisers. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly used. It is possible to get tranquillisers on prescription to help treat insomnia and anxiety. They slow the nervous system, allowing to feel more relaxed and relieve tension. Most come in tablet form.

A common drug for drink spiking is Flunitrazepam or Rohypnol™. This drug has the street name of forget-pill or “roofies”. Rohypnol lowers inhibitions when mixed with small amounts of alcohol, which is why it is a potential date rape drug. Users often behave in violent or destructive ways because of reduced inhibitions.

Rohypnol comes in pill-form and can be dissolved in a drink. Previously this drug was colourless when dissolved, but the manufacturers have changed the drug so it turns  blue when dropped in liquid.

Zoom Testing offers a drink spike test kit which can detect the presence of benzodiazepines in some drinks.

Further reading: What are Tranquillisers?

Ketamine

Often referred to as K, ketamine is powerful and used on humans and animals. In a liquid form it is legal but there are tablet and white powder forms that are illegally purchased. Some of the affects of the drug include feeling that the mind is separate from the body and hallucinations (where people hear and see things that are not really there).

Further reading: What is Ketamine?

Photo Credit: alabama slammer 01” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Tim Evanson

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2013.


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