‘I went from sober to throwing up in five minutes’: Young people’s stories of being spiked

‘This has left me with months’ worth of physical and mental recovery’


At the start of October, Chloe woke up in hospital after a night out. The 19-year-old fresher had been out clubbing with a group of mates, and says the last thing she remembers is having a drink. She fell over outside the club, smashing her face and knee and injuring her teeth, head, thumb and knee. Chloe believes she was spiked, as she’d not drunk a lot, has no memory of the events, and her friends have told her she wasn’t herself and had very large pupils.

But Chloe’s not alone – over 2,600 young people have told The Tab they believe they’ve been spiked already this university term – with 50 per cent of 23,000 respondents saying they believe a friend or someone they know has been spiked since the start of this uni year.

Some posts circulating on social media from people who say they were spiked believe this happened using a needle – they reference a feeling of a scratch, bruising the next day, or marks they believe to be puncture wounds. Nottinghamshire Police is investigating 12 reports of “needle spiking” in the last three weeks, with 44 reports of people having their drink spiked since 4th September – more than one every other day, on average. The force arrested a man, who has since been released on bail, following an incident last week.

Helena Conibear, CEO of the Alcohol Education Trust, told VICE that every year “during Freshers’ Week in the autumn”, there is a rise in reports made to them about drink spiking – in bars and clubs, but also at house parties. Meanwhile the BBC reports drink spiking incidents at house parties have become the “biggest concern” right now, for police officers in England tackling the crime.

Young people are reporting they are “absolutely terrified” to go out right now. There are nationwide club boycotts planned, with students saying they want more measures put in place to prevent spiking. But whilst there have been some talks of clubs increasing their security and bouncers, many students say they feel this will only make them feel less safe.

‘I have a huge blank from midnight onwards’

First year Nottingham student Zara told The Tab Notts she doesn’t remember anything past entering a club in the city on 11th October, and getting a drink at the bar. When she woke up the next day, she had a pain in her leg on further inspection found the site of which she believes a needle puncture.

This, and the fact she has no recollection of the night before, led Zara to believe she was spiked.

Where Zara believes the needle may have been

Zara told The Tab Notts: “Nothing was different about the lead up to the night, I had the same drink I would normally have before I go out and didn’t drink much on the night itself.

“Memory loss never comes to me when I’ve had alcohol and I didn’t drink a lot at all for it to be my own fault. I have a huge blank from maybe midnight onwards.” Zara’s housemate found her, alone, in a takeaway.

The next day she went to A&E, but had to go home after eight hours – without being seen. Zara told The Tab Notts that she has now booked an appointment with her GP but expressed concern that any substance may have left her system by then.

“I feel very scared, especially about my health and if it was a dirty needle I could be carrying these diseases which is a massive worry”, she said.

The club said it has measures in place to combat spiking, including training for staff, extensive CCTV and body cams, and searches for those entering the venue, including metal detectors. There is also always a fully qualified medic on site, and the club will soon be providing protective drink covers and drink testing kits. You can read their full statement here.

‘This has left me with months’ worth of physical and mental recovery’

After she believes she was spiked in a club during Freshers’ Week this year, 19-year-old Chloe says she went missing from her friends for an hour, before being found by another group of girls.

“I could not stand properly, slurring my words, kept forgetting everything my mates were telling me,” Chloe told The Tab. “My friend took me outside as she was going to take me home when I lost balance and smashed my knees and my face outside the club.”

This resulted in Chloe chipping her tooth, fracturing two more, sustaining a head injury, tissue damage to her lip, thumb and knee. She says she couldn’t walk properly for a week, and has since had to have her two fractured teeth removed.

Some of Chloe’s injuries

Although she doesn’t remember any of this, Chloe went to the club’s medic to get cleaned up and was taken home, and then to hospital, by her friends. She is still waiting for results of her blood tests, and has since been to her GP, both at home and uni.

“One of my friends I’ve known for years and have seen me at my worst drunken states and she even said that this was not me, even my pupils were massive as if I had done loads of drugs,” Chloe says.

She’s had her antidepressants upped, and Chloe says it’s had a huge effect on her. “Some days I feel okay and the next I just want the ground to swallow me up,” she told The Tab.

“This has now left me with months’ worth of recovery not only physically but mentally as well, some days I’m okay then next I don’t want to see or speak to anyone or leave my bed. It has left me self-conscious because of my mouth, which is a shame as it had taken me years to even build a lot of confidence in myself that I never had and that has been taken away from me.”

‘I went from sober to throwing up in five minutes’

The Monday after his Freshers’ Week, second year student Will, who’s at a uni in the south of England, felt “too sober” in a club so ordered a single rum and Coke. “I went from that to absolutely wasted and throwing up in the toilets”, Will told The Tab. Because of this, Will believes he was spiked.

“I went away from the bar after ordering to take a photo with a mate, then my drink was on the bar when I got back,” he said.

Five minutes after he drank it, Will had to run to the toilet and began vomiting. He stayed like this before managing to get himself home, and throwing up again.

The next morning he woke up with an awful, painful headache, and not much memory of getting home.

‘How do you stop somebody stabbing you with a needle?’

A 19-year-old student believes she was injected with an unknown liquid as she left the club on a night out. Her sister, Ellie, told BBC News she was taken to hospital after she felt “pinch on the back of her arm” and blacked out.

Her sister said: “I don’t think it’s quite yet sunk in what’s happened to her. It’s really frightening because I don’t know how you’re meant to prevent it.

“Obviously you can put your hand over your drink but how do you stop somebody stabbing you with a needle?”

Ellie added her sister is “in shock” and has not been clubbing since.

The club in question confirmed to BBC News it had received two reports within the past two weeks from customers who thought they may have been spiked by a needle, with both seen by the on-site medic. The club said it takes reports of spikings very seriously and staff are carrying out thorough footage and capturing CCTV footage, and it is liaising with police in investigations.

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