How bad is drink spiking?

2013-08-24 00:00

WHILE drink spiking is a huge worry for parents of teenagers, the police’s hands are tied in tracking the perpetrators as most incidents are not reported. Police often also have little to go on when investigating cases that are registered.

The issue of drink spiking has resurfaced on social networks where the concerned parents of a KZN teen asked about spiking drinks when it happened to their 18-year-old daughter. Many people responded to the posts concerned about the safety of their children.

The main targets of spiked drinks are teenagers. Very few cases are reported to the police, as the victim may forget what happened or the case is neglected due to little evidence.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said they receive complaints of drinks being spiked from time to time.

“It is difficult to prove whether a drink has been spiked or not. In some cases blood tests are taken, but a couple we did recently came back negative. The best way to prove it, is to actually see the incident happen, which is also difficult as clubs are dark with strobe lights,” Jeevan told Weekend Witness.

There have been complaints of rape after a drink was spiked, but again it is difficult to prove if a drink was spiked or not.

“A lot of the time those who had their drinks spiked are teenagers, who are not supposed to be drinking at all. They are scared to come forward because they are doing something illegal,” said Jeevan.

When it comes to avoiding having your drink spiked, everyone agrees that it is best to keep a close eye on your drinks and stay close to your friends.

Shami Krishan from KZN Private Ambulance said: “We normally get called to assist victims who have been spiked in a club. Most calls are received during weekends from victims and club owners and are from Pietermaritzburg and Durban. If you suspect you have been spiked, do not to ask strangers for assistance. Rather notify people you know. If your drink has been spiked, drink a lot of water and surround yourself with people you are familiar with. Avoid strangers.”

Jeevan agrees: “Never accept drinks from a stranger or let your drink out of your sight, even for a second. If you feel dizzy or confused, immediately inform a friend or relative to take you home and do not, under any circumstances, leave the venue alone or with an unknown person.”

Cathy Rees, the manager of Red Door in Pietermaritzburg, said: “A huge majority of ‘spiking’ is really just a case of the person drinking more than they can handle. Very few reported cases are confirmed by blood tests. I advise people to pace their drinks, and drink plenty of water during the night. Be aware of factors that would affect the alcohol, such as medication, stress or exhaustion, as this will drastically decrease the tolerance for alcohol. If a patron [of Red Door] should find themselves in a situation where they believe they have been spiked, cannot take care of themselves, and have no friends who can do so, I urge them to find me, and I will do what I can to ensure their safety and wellbeing.”

How will you feel if your drink is spiked?

A VICTIM of spiking, who asked to remain unnamed, told Weekend Witness about the effects you feel when your drink is spiked.

“It is difficult to distinguish whether your drink has been spiked. The symptoms are difficulty walking, hallucinations, speech difficulties, vomiting and an unusually long hangover.”

Substances abused

THERE are a variety of substances used to spike drinks. According to Anil Chaturton from Sanctuary Pharmacy, eye drops and Rohypnol are substances commonly used to spike drinks.

“Rohypnol is the ‘date rape’ drug. It is an hypnotic sedative that is used to treat patients with anxiety issues. It is only available with a prescription. Because of its heavy effects it has been abused [as a drug], and most pharmacies don’t stock it any more. We don’t have it here. Eye drops are not meant to be consumed. If they are, it may cause depression of the nervous system, sweating and drowsiness, which is why people may use them to spike drinks.”

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