This information has been provided by our Director of Public Health in response to recent drug spiking allegations.
The Office of Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) have produced updated advice and information about drug spiking on the national drug and alcohol resource, Frank.
What if you think you have been spiked (by drink or needle)?
- If you start to feel strange, sick or drunk when you know that you couldn’t be drunk, seek help from a trusted friend or the venue management.
- If you think you have been spiked, get a close friend to get you out of the place as soon as possible and take you home or ring a friend, relative or partner and ask them to come and pick you up.
- Remember that males are also vulnerable to having their drinks spiked so don’t discount this possibility for yourself or a male friend
- If you feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened you can ask for help by approaching venue staff, a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff.
- Newcastle licensed venues have a Duty of Care policy in place so that staff are aware of how to support vulnerable or intoxicated people on their premises. Venue staff will know how to take appropriate action to keep vulnerable people safe including ensuring they are not left alone or sent home without being in the care of a suitable person.
- Staff at Newcastle venues which are part of the Shout Up! scheme have received specialist training on dealing with sexual harassment and vulnerability and will have procedures and policies in place to appropriately safeguard staff and patrons.
- Make sure you can trust the person you ask for help. Don’t go anywhere with a stranger or acquaintance.
- Once you are safely home, ask someone to stay with you until the effects of the drug have worn off, which could be several hours.
- Don’t hesitate to call for medical help if you need it, and do tell the police what happened.
- If you want more information about drugs and alcohol and their effects, visit the Frank website.
When to phone the police
You should contact the police if you have been assaulted or are the victim of a crime, including being spiked. Share as much information as you can.
Deliberate spiking with a needle is assault and should be reported to the police immediately.
The police will investigate the circumstances appropriately including, where necessary, advising you to go to the Emergency Department to have an assessment and support from a sexual assault referral centre (see below).
When to go to the hospital
- Attend a hospital's emergency department (ED) if you have symptoms or signs of toxicity. (This is most likely at the time or shortly after the incident rather than at a delayed time point e.g. the next day).
- Do not visit an ED if you are well or have mild symptoms that you would expect from any alcohol or other substances that you took by choice.
- ED will not routinely check for substances in your blood or urine if you are well.
- ED will not usually collect blood or urine samples for police investigation.
- Deliberate spiking with a needle is assault and should be reported as such. Any required testing or preventive treatment should be determined through that process.
- If you are accidentally spiked with a needle you know or suspect to have been previously used, seek medical advice.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you can contact a sexual assault referral centre for support.
REACH Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC)
Help and support relating to a sexual offences is available by contacting REACH's 24/7 Crisis Support Service:
- Phone 0333 344 8283
The North East SARC support service provides 24 hour crisis intervention and support for anyone (male or female) who has experienced a sexual offence, regardless of when the offence occurred or whether the incident was reported to the police or not.
Crisis support workers will outline the options available and provide support throughout any subsequent process.
The crisis workers will also provide help to gain access to local specialist service providers.
Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland (RCTN)
RCTN provide free, safe, professional support, counselling, information and independent sexual violence advisor (ISVA) services for women and girls over 13 who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives.
They support women and girls who have experienced sexual violence recently and/or in the past, including childhood sexual abuse.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 0800 035 2794 (Monday to Thursday, 6.00 pm to 8.30 pm and Friday, 11am to 2pm)
NIDAS ISVA Service
ISVA support for people aged 14+ who have experienced sexual violence: the Independent Sexual Violence Advisors support male and female survivors whether the crime has been reported or not. If a report has been made, an ISVA can provide support through the criminal justice process and ensure that the survivors voice is heard. If the survivor is unsure whether to report, an ISVA can help them consider their options.
- Phone: 0191 214 6501
- Email: Nidas.Team@thirteengroup.co.uk
Alcohol, drugs and intoxication – know your limits
- As with drugs (and probably more common), alcohol can be used to purposely intoxicate someone and result in them becoming vulnerable.
- Alcohol intoxication could also be confused with spiking. Drinking a lot of alcohol (more than 6-8 units) can make people intoxicated (drunk) which will lead to slurred speech, lack of coordination, blurred vision, poor decision making and impaired judgement – often increasing risk taking behaviour. It can also make some people aggressive. Find out more about what a unit of alcohol is on the NHS website
- Alcohol intake can affect people differently at different times, especially if tolerance is low, if they are on medication, if they haven’t eaten, where they are (the setting) or who they are with.
- ‘Pre-loading’ or drinking high volume alcohol (including shots) can lead to intoxication quickly. It won't always have the same effects.
- If alcohol is mixed with other substances / drugs (including some prescribed medication), this can also have unpredictable effects.
- It is important to know that no illegal drug is safe, and you cannot be sure what the substance contains nor its effects. If you are going to use drugs, make sure you seek harm reduction advice and do not use alone.
- If someone is intoxicated, it is important they are not left alone.
- Find them a safe space and give them water and ensure they seek medical attention if needed.
- They may need a little time to sober up before travelling home safely (preferably with a friend, family member or arrangement with a taxi)
- If they lose consciousness, place them in the recovery position, then seek medical attention urgently.
- It takes one hour for your body to process each alcohol unit – be aware and careful of driving the next day. Some drugs might stay in your system longer.
For other support around drugs and alcohol, including if you are impacted by a loved one or friends use, see our drugs and alcohol pages.
If you are at university and need support around your drug or alcohol use, find out about the NTaR service which has support for young adults, mention you are a student when you ring them.