Beware of the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

…a person with a pleasant and friendly appearance that hides the fact that they are evil.
 
Following the sexual assaults around Cardiff in October, it was safe to say that it was time to feel a lot more wary than normal. Clubs’ security was getting hot and vulnerable girls were not allowed to leave alone at the end of a night. It seemed like everyone had a wake up call – after all, it can be dangerous being a young female in a capital city.

This week I had a shock when I couldn’t remember a solid hour of my night. Yes, it happens, people black out, but this night felt very different for me. I would define myself as naive at times – new to this adult world. I would say I am a sensible drinker and I drink to have fun – not to get so drunk that I cannot remember a thing.

So, a few drinks down the line I entered the club in my happy state. A short time later, I was approached by a ‘fellow student’, who seemed friendly and unthreatening – after all, I was in a safe environment, surrounded by other students, with my friends only a short distance away.

After dancing and flirting a little we continued to chat on the sofa in the club… little did I know that the next hour would become a complete blank for me. The next thing I remember was sitting in the ladies bathroom, having lost all control of my limbs, blurred vision, soon followed by projectile vomiting. However, I was fortunate to have my best friends looking after me, ready to take me home. It was an awful evening and is certainly not a pretty sight for anyone to see.

Therein lies the problem: you almost never know for certain if your drink has been spiked. It’s never clear as to whether you’ve been the victim or it’s just your own inability to pace yourself. We hear a lot about drink spiking and ‘date-rape’ drugs, but never enough. It’s easy to think of yourself as invincible a couple of drinks into the night, but in all honesty, we’re most certainly not.

It’s plausible to wake up feeling dizzy and sick with hazy memories of the night before and brush it off, which is why it’s near to impossible to get any hard statistics on how common it really is. According to a survey in Swansea, 1 in 3 students say that they have been spiked, two thirds of those were women. Drinkaware.co.uk claims that alcohol is used more commonly than drugs to spike drinks – as shots can be added to make drinks a lot stronger – and in result, the effect will happen at a much faster pace. “Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs. They can be odourless, colourless and tasteless. They also leave the body within a short amount of time making them hard to detect. Both drugs can be used to commit physical and sexual assaults as they can sedate or incapacitate a victim, making them more vulnerable to attack.”

The general symptoms of drink spiking include: 

– Lowered inhibitions 
– Loss of balance
– Visual problems 
– Confusion
– Nausea 
– Vomiting 
– Unconsciousness 

“Dr Sarah Jarvis, Drinkaware medical advisor, says: ‘The symptoms will depend on lots of factors such as the substance or mix of substances used (including the dose), your size and weight, and how much alcohol you have already consumed.'” 

If it wasn’t for my friends that night who looked after me, I could be telling a very different story. Having found myself in an extremely vulnerable and dangerous situation, I left myself open to physical injury, physical or sexual assault, theft or worse. Luckily for me, I was surrounded by loyal friends. The night undoubtedly left me very shaken and made me realise what a lucky escape I had. But most of all it was a definite lesson learned.

I’m no expert, and the ideal solution would be to avoid drinking altogether – however I am a University student and many of my readers are too – and of course, this would be unrealistic. The problem is that there are too many grey areas around drink spiking and too much uncertainty. It’s the ambiguity that makes it so sinister.

Us girls (and boys) do need to be cautious and aware of our surroundings and who we are with on a night out, so what can we do to ensure this doesn’t happen?

– It’s an old saying, but never leave your drink unattended. For extra caution, finish your drink before you go anywhere else – in that case, no one else can get access to your drink.

– If you think you have been spiked, you’ve got at least 15-20 minutes to act upon it before you become incoherent – so call a friend to help you.

– Try and pay for your own drinks – someone is going to find it far easier to slip something into your drink if they are getting it for you.

– Remember that if you have already been drinking, you may be less aware of any dangers.

– Surround yourself with good friends. Never trust people you have only just met. Keep an eye on each other. Your friends need to be the ones on hand to take you home when you are acting out of character.

Having reached over 14 million views, this video is a clear example of how easy it to have your drink spiked. The YouTube prankster has created a video of him slipping ‘drugs’ into the drinks of unsuspecting members of the pubic whilst they wait at bars.

University’s great. You’re away from home for the first time, you can stay out as late as you want and you don’t have to worry about your mum shouting at you for coming in drunk. You’re free – and it’s fun.
But, just for now, I think I want my mum.
Lesson learned.
Keep Safe.

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