SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- To spike a drink means to put alcohol or drugs into someone's drink without their knowledge or permission.
- Drink spiking is illegal in all Australian states and territories.
- If you suspect drink spiking or drug-assisted sexual assault, we recommend contacting the police, getting support from a sexual assault service and/or going to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.
About drink spiking
To spike a drink means to put or into someone's drink without their knowledge or permission. Drink spiking can occur anywhere drinks are served (such as at nightclubs, parties, pubs, restaurants and private homes).
Drink spiking can be linked to crimes such as and robbery. In these situations, the offender may spike someone's drink to lower their defences and make it easier to commit a crime against them. Estimates suggest that one third of drink spiking incidents are associated with sexual attack.
Drink spiking is illegal. This means that adding alcohol or drugs into a friend's drink as a prank, is against the law – even if the drink is not consumed or the person is not harmed. People who spike drinks can be fined or jailed.
What is drink spiking?
Drink spiking is a deliberate act. Public perception is that it is limited to slipping drugs into an alcoholic drink, however, drink spiking can include:
- Putting alcohol into a non-alcoholic drink (such as water, soft drink, non-alcoholic punch or fruit juice).
- Adding extra alcohol to an alcoholic drink.
- Adding prescription or illegal drugs (such as , or ) into an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink.
Drinks are most commonly spiked with alcohol.
Alcohol and other drugs typically used in drink spiking incidents often have sedative effects. This means you might feel like passing out, have trouble controlling your body, experience blackout or memory loss, and can result in becoming unconscious.
Who is at risk of drink spiking?
Women are more likely to report having their drinks spiked than men.
Research suggests that drinking spiking amongst men is increasing but is underreported. When it comes to the LGBTIQA+ community, we know even less.
Studies show that most people are not aware of the dangers of drink spiking. For example:
- Many people do not think they are at risk of drink spiking, and do not consider it a common occurrence.
- Drinks can be spiked by people you know or have just met. Such as, you may not consider an unknown person to be a stranger after talking to them for a while – then more likely to accept a drink from them.
Reducing the risk of drink spiking
It is never someone’s fault if their drink was spiked. You might not even be able to tell your drink has been spiked.
Knowing how drink spiking typically occurs, can help inform you and your friends on how to reduce the risk of drink spiking.
To protect yourself and your friends against drink spiking, safety suggestions include:
- and socialise with trusted friends. Plan how you will look out for each other while you are out.
- Buy your own drinks.
- If you are at a venue that serves drinks, watch the bartender prepare your drink.
- Avoid accepting drinks from strangers.
- If you accept the offer of a drink from a stranger, accompany them to the bar and take the drink from the bartender yourself.
- Don’t drink anything that has been spiked. If you see others doing so (including people you know), call it out.
- Be wary if a stranger buys you a drink and it's not the type of drink you requested.
- Keep an eye on your drink where possible. If you need to leave (to go to the toilet or dance, for example), ask a trusted friend to keep watch.
- Buy drinks that come in bottles with screw-top lids. Carry the bottle in your bag when you go to the toilet or have a dance.
- Don't consume your drink if you think it may have been spiked. Discuss your concerns with the manager or host.
- Tell the manager or host immediately if you see someone spike a drink or if you suspect that drink spiking may be occurring.
Symptoms of drink spiking
You may not realise your drink has been spiked by smelling it or tasting it. The substances used to spike drinks are often colourless and odourless.
Symptoms of drink spiking depend on many factors such as:
- the substance used
- what your drink has been mixed with
- the dose
- your size and weight
- how much alcohol you have already consumed.
Drink spiking symptoms may include:
- feeling drunk, woozy or drowsy
- feeling “out of it” or drunker than expected
- mental confusion
- speech difficulties (such as slurring)
- memory loss
- loss of inhibitions
- nausea and vomiting
- breathing problems
- muscle spasms or seizures
- loss of consciousness
- an unusually long hangover
- a severe hangover when you had little or no alcohol to drink.
What to do if you suspect drink spiking
There are a few things you can do if you suspect you or someone else has had their drink spiked:
- Alert a trusted person - such as a friend, venue staff or host what is happening.
- Go a safe place – have a trusted person with you.
- Keep a close eye on anyone who has had their drink spiked.
- Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates in any way (for example, if they lose consciousness).
- Contact police as soon as possible after a suspected incident of drink spiking.
- Contact a sexual assault support service for compassionate support around reporting and to talk through what has occurred.
Sexual assault from drink spiking
- the police on 000
- (for Victorians) Tel.
- . Tel. 1800 RESPECT ()
- Your local at the nearest hospital
- A doctor, sometimes called a general practitioner (GP)
You can use these support services at any time, whether or not you choose to report to the police. These services can provide you with support, guidance, and coordination for however you choose to move forward. If you want to report to the police, it is best to do so as soon as possible.
Remember that sexual assault is often traumatic, overwhelming, and a violation of a person’s safety, choice, and control. Sexual assault is a crime, and the responsibility rests soley with the person who has chosen to spike drinks.
People who have been sexually assaulted while intoxicated may find it hard to contact police or ask for professional help because they may feel guilt or shame or be afraid of not being believed. Remember that these services are there for you and counsellors/advocates are trained specifically in sexual assault and will support you.
They can support you even if you can't remember exactly what happened. Some drugs used in drink spiking can cause short-term memory loss.
Drug-assisted sexual assault, like all sexual assault, is a crime. Police, health workers and sexual assault services are there to hear your story and help you.
Remember, there is no time limit on reporting sexual assault in Victoria.