“Needle Spiking” in Nightclubs Cause Alarm | Knowledge is Power

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A frightening new take on drink spiking is causing alarm in England.  Police are investigating numerous reports of people being spiked by injection. Read on to learn more about this frightening new trend.

Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education. Has 28 years experience.

Violence Against Women: Spiked By Injection

“Needle Spiking” in Nightclubs Cause Alarm | Knowledge is Power

The prevalence of drink spiking has made us hesitant to leave a drink unattended in public places.  It’s a scary thought that someone could put alcohol, “date rape drugs” or other substances into your drink without you having a clue.  Now, reports of an alarming variation of drink spiking are coming out of England, spiking by injection with a syringe.  This disturbing trend adds another layer of concern to the country’s already high rate of violence against women.  

What is Needle Spiking?

Lizzie Wilson1, 18, felt a sharp pinch (like a needle prick) in her back while she stood in a crowded nightclub with friends. Moments later, she began having trouble standing.  After being rushed to the hospital, she spent the next hours disoriented and without sensation in her legs.  Wilson isn’t alone.  Other women have reported finding a pinprick on their body after waking up and being unable to remember what happened the night before. Wilson’s experience isn’t isolated as women in Scotland, Nottingham, Exeter and Northern Ireland have reported similar experiences. 

Reasons Why

There are numerous reasons2 why a person would spike another person with a dangerous drug.  Common reasons may include:

  • To sexually assault
  • To physically assault
  • To carry out a theft
  • For entertainment

In Wilson’s case, the physician suggested she was injected with ketamine, a powerful anesthetic.  It’s also important to note that anyone, not just women, can become a victim of spiking.

Date Rape Drugs

It’s not yet known what drugs are most commonly used for needle spiking.  However, date rape drugs used for drink spiking are likely being used.  The three most common3 date rape drugs include Rohypnol (flunitrazepam), GHB and ketamine.  Let’s look at a few facts about each drug.

Rohypnol (flunitrazepam)

  • Also known as roofies, forget-me-pill, R-2
  • A benzodiazepine that requires a prescription
  • Not approved for use in the U.S.
  • Effects felt within 30 minutes and last for several hours
  • May cause severe drowsiness, confusion, difficulty moving body and memory of what happened after the drugs take effect

GHB

  • Also known as cherry meth, scoop, goop
  • A central nervous system depressant that is prescribed for narcolepsy.
  • Can take effect in 15-30 minutes and effects may last 3-6 hours.
  • Can cause vomiting, slow heart rate and difficulty breathing
  • High doses can cause coma or death
  • Tasteless and odorless drug and colorless when dissolved in a drink

Ketamine

  • Also known as cat valium, k-hole, purple
  • A dissociative drug used as an anesthetic in surgery (human and animal)
  • Distorts hearing and vision, causes hallucinations and a feeling of detachment from the environment
  • Can increase heart rate, blood pressure and cause nausea
  • Effects last for 30-60 minutes.

Incident Numbers

As of October 37th, 56 cases4 of needle spiking were reported by police in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland during September and October.  During this same time period, 198 confirmed cases of drink spiking were reported.

Andrea Simon, coalition director for End Violence Against Women, warns cases of needle spiking are likely5 underreported.  Simon explains two reasons why victims may be reluctant to report being drugged.  First, victims may not remember what happened the previous night.  Secondly, some people may not think authorities will believe their story.

Bars and Clubs Boycotted

Concerned individuals boycotted bars6 in cities across Britain during the week of October 2nd.  Students led the “Night In” protest and called for bar staff to be better trained in how to protect customers from spiking.  Clubs in Nottingham and Oxford closed to show support for the protestor’s cause.  The University of St. Andrews in Scotland implemented bag searches, safety patrols and drink testing at its venues in support of the campaign.

Moving Forward

Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, recently called the incidents “obviously vile crimes” and tasked police to review recent reports.  Cooper directed police to submit a comprehensive countrywide assessment to better understand the problem’s scope. 

Quote

“There isn’t a proactive assessment happening about what the scale is of the problem.  It’s still seen as the victim’s responsibility to protect themselves.” --Yvette Cooper7

Update

According to Independent, two men were arrested8 this week on suspicion of spiking victims by both injections and in drinks.  The men, ages 19 and 28, were charged with poison with intent to injure.  Both men are currently out on bail.

What have you seen on the job or through social media about injection spiking?


References

1,6,7Needle Spiking’ of Women in Britain Stirs Alarm Over New Kind of Assault

2Drink spiking and date rape drugs

3Date-Rape Drugs

4Demonstrators take to streets across UK to protest against ‘spiking epidemic’

5‘Spiked by injection’: Women’s group says spiking victims are reluctant to speak out as they feel shame

8Two men arrested on suspicion of spiking by injection and in drinks

J.Adderton, RN MSN has over 25 years nursing experience. Her experience ranges from bedside nursing, nursing education, staff development and project management.

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3 Comment(s)

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

The first I heard of this was at the recent crowd surge at Travis Scott's concert at the Astrodome in Houston, Tx.  There were people who said they were injected with something and then collapsed, including a security guard.  https://nypost.com/2021/11/06/astroworld-security-guard-pricked-in-neck-with-needle-houston-police-say/ 

I had never heard of this before, but would be concerned about Hep C and HIV if they reused needles.  Also fentanyl as it's being laced in many drugs and can kill within minutes!  It makes no sense to me why a stranger(s) would inject random people at a concert.  The whole situation is a very sad tragedy!

But we don't know if that is what caused the 11 cardiac arrests, 8 deaths and hundreds of injured, including two young people who are fighting for their life a young boy who apparently was trampled on and a young women who is brain dead and on a ventilator.  https://nypost.com/2021/11/10/astroworld-victim-bharti-shahani-declared-brain-dead-from-injury-reports/   and https://nypost.com/2021/11/08/9-year-old-in-coma-after-astroworld-crush-report/  

Edited by brandy1017

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

On 11/10/2021 at 2:52 PM, brandy1017 said:

The first I heard of this was at the recent crowd surge at Travis Scott's concert at the Astrodome in Houston, Tx.  There were people who said they were injected with something and then collapsed, including a security guard.  https://nypost.com/2021/11/06/astroworld-security-guard-pricked-in-neck-with-needle-houston-police-say/ 

I had never heard of this before, but would be concerned about Hep C and HIV if they reused needles.  Also fentanyl as it's being laced in many drugs and can kill within minutes!  It makes no sense to me why a stranger(s) would inject random people at a concert.  The whole situation is a very sad tragedy!

But we don't know if that is what caused the 11 cardiac arrests, 8 deaths and hundreds of injured, including two young people who are fighting for their life a young boy who apparently was trampled on and a young women who is brain dead and on a ventilator.  https://nypost.com/2021/11/10/astroworld-victim-bharti-shahani-declared-brain-dead-from-injury-reports/   and https://nypost.com/2021/11/08/9-year-old-in-coma-after-astroworld-crush-report/  

Just to be clear, the update from the police in the Scott concert is that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest anybody stuck anybody with a needle.  That’s a conspiracy theory, and unfortunately the reality is more mundane and sad. 
https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-the-travis-scott-concert-stopped-the-social-media-postsand-conspiracy-theorieswere-just-beginning-11636713001

Tegridy

Specializes in Former NP now Internal medicine PGY-2.

Sounds like a good reason to avoid picking up dates at the bar