CASE STUDY: Hannah in Bexhill
A heaving club on a Saturday night: music thumping, strobe lights swirling, glitter-balls twinkling, drink flowing… If you’re up for a great night out; in such an electric atmosphere, what more do you need?
Well, no-one needs this:
At the end of September last year, 24-year-old Hannah, a hotel receptionist in Sussex, had spent the entire week looking forward to her Saturday night out with the girls. It’s what they live for. But it certainly isn’t something they’d die for. Hannah nearly did though: “When you go out for the night, you expect to come home again. I didn’t – I came out of a coma in my local hospital’s ICU* months after someone spiked my drink in a club. I’m lucky to be alive.”
* Intensive Care Unit
But that’s perhaps not the really shocking part of Hannah’s story.
“My drink was spiked by another woman”
Assumptions. We all make them, rightly or wrongly. Most of us – upon hearing that a young woman has been rushed to hospital after having her drink spiked in a pub or club, or at a party – would exclaim: “I hope they caught the bloke!”
Hannah: “While I was in hospital, close family members, my boyfriend, my mates and work colleagues jumped to the conclusion that the perpetrator of the crime must have been male, and so set about searching for him. That turned out to be a complete waste of time and money. A woman confessed to slipping Ketamine* into my drink at a club in Bexhill after being caught and arrested for doing the same thing to someone else at a club in Brighton a fortnight later.”
* Ketamine (aka Special K) is an anesthetic used on animals.
How to protect yourself from drink spiking (by either sex)
If someone is absolutely determined to spike your drink, they’ll usually find a way, and will even make several attempts (i.e. on a number of different occasions) until they eventually succeed. Weeks or even months before your drink is spiked, you may have been targeted; although the vast majority of instances where drink spiking occurs are ‘one offs’ where a stranger randomly meets someone in a social setting [and slips a substance into their drink].
While drink spiking prevention can never be 100 per cent failsafe, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of it happening to you:
Keep alert by limiting your drinking (and by spacing your alcoholic drinks out with water)
Don’t accept drinks from strangers
If someone you don’t know absolutely insists on buying you a drink; make sure you go with them to the bar when they order it, and watch it being poured
Don’t leave your drink unattended: when you’re on the dance floor, or visiting the toilets, get one of your mates to keep an eye on your drink
Remember that a spiked drink doesn’t necessarily have to contain a powder or dissolving pill; alcohol itself could be used by the perpetrator. So, if you asked for a rum and Coke, but then detect a slight taste of vodka, there is a good chance that your drink has been spiked by someone seeking to further strengthen your drink, for their own ends.
We’ll leave the last word to Hannah:
“Now, when I go out, I’m super-vigilant when it comes to drinking. As you can imagine, my friends also look out for me. But I can’t say I enjoy going out anymore. I’m on edge too much – wondering if my drink has been tampered with or not.
The dreadful thing is that both alcoholic drinks and soft drinks can be spiked, so it’s not like you can have an orange juice or a Coke and think you’re safe.
Every few weeks there’s a story in the newspapers and online about someone somewhere in the UK who has had their drink spiked and has either ended up in hospital, lost their eyesight, or even died.
Being found guilty of drink spiking should mean a life-term custodial prison sentence for the perpetrator, I believe. It’s an unforgivable thing to do – a life-threatening act.”
Note: All names have been changed