The festive season is upon us and parties, gatherings, functions and celebrations will be in full swing.

Whilst this is a time to let your hair down and have fun, it is also an important time to be aware of the dangers posed by ‘drink spiking’; when a substance is added to your drink without your knowledge or permission.

Why do people spike drinks?

People can spike other’s drinks for many reasons and women are not always the victims; men can fall prey to this practice as well.
• Date Rape: Drinks can be spiked with a number of substances with the aim to incapacitate the victim and rape or sexually assault them.
• Robbery: A person may spike your drink with the intention of robbing you of your belongings. This can happen in your own home as well as when you are out and about. The more intoxicated you are, the less likely you will be to notice or react.
• For a ‘joke’: Many people are the victims of drink spiking from their own friends and associates who do not realise the dangers of adding substances to a drink without a person’s knowledge. They might do this as an ‘initiation’; for a dare or because they think it will be funny. You can never predict how a person will react to any substance, especially when mixed with alcohol and this makes spiking exceptionally dangerous.

What substances are used?

If your drink is spiked, the way you feel will depend on the substance used but you may feel intoxicated very quickly; experience dizziness, confusion or have diffi culty speaking and moving. Drinks can be spiked with alcohol; GHB; Ketamine; Rohypnol and other drugs such as Valium, Ecstasy or Mandrax. Many of these substances are tasteless and odourless making it hard to identify. A substance doesn’t always have to be added to the drink; people can smear brake fluid round the edge of a bottle or glass which will have the same eff ect and this has been reported in a couple of areas of Botswana.

How can you keep safe?

• Always keep hold of your drinks; don’t leave them lying around
• Don’t accept drinks from strangers or people you don’t trust
• If your drink looks or tastes unusual, don’t risk drinking it
• Don’t drink from communal drinks such as punches at parties
• Order your own drinks and watch them being poured
• Let someone know where you are and when you expect to be home
• Be aware of greasy substances around the glass or bottle and if you are unsure, don’t drink it
• Watch out for your friends: if someone starts behaving strangely or appears more drunk than they should be then keep an eye on them and don’t let them go home on their own or with people you don’t trust You can fi nd BOSASNet on Fac