Drink Spiking

What is drink spiking?

Drink spiking is when someone has added something, for example, alcohol or drugs, to your drink, without you knowing. This may affect the way you act or how you behave.

Drink spiking is illegal, even if the person affected is not attacked or assaulted. It can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years for anyone found guilty of doing this.


What symptoms will I have if my drink is spiked?

This will depend on:

  • The type and amount of drug or alcohol used.
  • How much alcohol you have had to drink.
  • If you are taking medication (drugs)
  • Your body size and age.

Symptoms can develop within 5 - 20 minutes and last for up to 12 hours.

The drugs used often make you feel sleepy, weak and reduce your ability to defend yourself.

You may not be aware of what is going on around you or what is happening to you.

Common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Confusion, especially the next day or after waking up
  • Nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting (being sick)
  • Hallucinations (seeing things which are not there)
  • Tiredness
  • Visual problems, for example, blurred vision
  • Paranoia (a feeling of fear or distrust of others)
  • Amnesia (loss of memory) especially about things that have happened

High doses of some drugs used to spike drinks can cause problems with your muscles, a coma (a very deep unnatural sleep) and death. 

What to do if you have been spiked with a needle


Step 1: Tell someone that you think you have been spiked immediately in case you lose consciousness or mobility and require help.

Step 2: Encourage the wound to bleed, ideally by holding it under running water.

Step 3: Wash the wound using running water and plenty of soap. Do not scrub the wound while you're washing it. Do not suck the wound.  

Step 4: Dry the wound and cover it with a waterproof plaster or dressing.

Step 5: Seek urgent medical advice on 111 or from your nearest A&E department. 


Within 24 hours, go to a medical facility- you may need emergency medication, such as:

Antibiotics to treat infection.

Post exposure treatment to prevent Hepatitis B or HIV.


These treatments are free and effective. 

What should I do if I think my drink has been spiked?

If you begin to feel drunk after having only a small amount or no alcohol, or you think your drink may have been spiked, you should:

  • Get help from a friend you trust, a relative or a senior member of staff if you are in a club or pub.
  • Go to a place of safety as soon as possible; but only go home with someone you totally trust. If you are with people you do not know, contact a trusted friend or relative to come and take you home and look after you.
  • If you start to feel very sleepy, vomit or have hallucinations, you should visit your GP or local Accident and Emergency Department immediately.


You should also contact the police as drink spiking is illegal. The police may ask for a sample of your blood or urine to test, to find out if drugs have been used.

It is important you are tested as soon as possible if you think your drink was spiked as most drugs leave your body within 12 – 72 hours.