November 8, 2019

Drink spiking

close up beer

Drink spiking occurs when a person deliberately adds alcohol or another drug to a drink without the knowledge of the person who will be drinking it.

Drink spiking is illegal

Drink spiking is illegal in all Australian states and territories. Penalties include fines and imprisonment ranging from 2 to 25 years.

Victorian legislation makes the spiking of another person's food or drink an offence. The offence is committed even if the food or drink is not consumed or if the spiking does not harm the person.3

Drink spiking is when someone deliberately adds alcohol or another drug to your drink without your knowledge.

People usually spike drinks as a prank to get someone drunk or high, but sometimes drink spiking is used to assault, rob or rape someone. Estimates suggest that one-third of drink spiking incidents are associated with a sexual attack.2

Why don’t we hear about drink spiking more?

Incidents of drink spiking are under-reported.1 Often victims think that people won’t believe them, especially if they have been drinking or taken drugs.

We have no way to know how many times drink spiking happens. The Australian Institute of Criminology suggests that between 3000 and 4000 suspected incidents of drink spiking occurred in Australia between 2002‒2003.1

Stop your drink being spiked

When you’re out at a pub, club or party, watch your drinks.

Other actions can include:

  • avoid sharing drinks
  • if someone you don’t know well offers you a drink, go to the bar with them
  • many people have their drinks spiked by someone they know; to avoid this, buy or pour your own drinks
  • keep an eye on your friends and their drinks.
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How do I know if a drink has been spiked?

If your drink has been spiked you may not be able to see, smell or taste it. The drug or extra alcohol may be colourless and odourless and may not affect the taste of your drink.

Warning signs include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • feeling ill or sleepy
  • feeling drunk even if you think you've only had a little alcohol to drink
  • passing out
  • waking up feeling uncomfortable and confused, with memory blanks about the night before.

What to do if your drink is spiked

If you think your drink has been spiked, you can:

  • ask someone you trust to help you get to a safe place
  • if you feel unwell or have been sexually assaulted, go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital
  • ask your doctor to test for the presence of drugs. Urine or blood tests can pick up traces of certain drugs up to 24 hours later.
Drink spiking is serious: In an emergency, telephone triple zero (000) or the nearest police station. For information about sexual assault, or for counselling or referral, call 1800RESPECT.

What do people use to spike drinks?

Most of the time, drinks are spiked with alcohol. Either the drink is stronger than you think, or someone has added extra alcohol.

Despite recent media reports, drink spiking with drugs like GHB and Rohypnol® is very rare. Alcohol is a far more common way to spike drinks. Drugs that are used to spike drinks are usually depressants that make you act like you are drunk, or just about to pass out.

  1. Lievore, D. (2003). Non-reporting and hidden recording of sexual assault: an international literature review.
  2. Australian Institute of Criminology. (2004). National Project on Drink Spiking: Investigating the nature and extent of drink spiking in Australia.
  3. Higgins, C. (2008). Crimes Legislation Amendment (Food and Drink Spiking) Bill 2008. Melbourne: Parliamentary Library

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