''It was Friday and me and my friends decided to go to one of the usual bars in the city center to spend together one unforgettable night. Everything seemed to be fine at the beginning of the night until I woke up not knowing how I got home…''
For every teenager a seemingly normal night out with friends can always end up in a bad way… How aware are teenager of the effects of alcohol - what it could do to them, how a wrong company or a drink could harm them? Drink spiking - how common it is, how to keep ourselves safe and what to do if someone else is affected?
Every teenager wants to explore the world, try new things and break out the traditional societal pattern. But how can a young person deal with an adverse situation that seemingly sounds like a myth but unfortunately is a reality? According to recent statistics, it is clear that in most European countries, teenagers are falling victim to drugs put in their drinks. In September and October 2021, recorded cases of drink spiking England[i], Poland[ii] and elsewhere were over 200, covering not only girls but also boys. It all starts with a simple get-together with friends, until you find yourself in an unfamiliar place or not remembering moments of the evening. Often, teenagers fall victim to a spiked drink behind which is a desire of:
- sexual assault;
- even friendly pranks.
- take the person to a cool and ventilated place;
- give the affected person water frequently and in small sips;
- take care of the person's safety and monitor their condition and state;
- in case of more serious intoxication, seek medical attention;
- call a parent who can pick you or the intoxicated person;
- do not leave the person alone[iv].
It all starts like a normal party with friends, a nice place, good company, socializing and meeting new and interesting people. Although alcohol is prohibited for minors, it is not a taboo that all teenagers use it. The friends are fun, the evening is in full swing, but suddenly one of the girls is visibly unwell. She's drunk, dizzy, nauseous, visibly wandering and in need of a break[iii]. This clearly indicates that the girl has fallen victim to a drugged drink. A spiked drink is not only such with an added narcotic but may also be with a larger amount of alcohol. When someone falls into this situation, it is important to be in the company of friends who can help them or when they feel something is wrong, whether at a bar, club, or house party, it is important to call a parent to get them home safely and responsibly. The spiked drink’s victims often have no recollection of what happened during the evening, no memory of how they got home and who took them, what happened, in some cases waking up in a place unfamiliar to them with no memory of how they got there. Unfortunately, most teens cannot keep themselves safe or recognize a person who is spiked and needs help. If you witness, “drink spiking'' or you are the victim, it is a good idea to:
Those were tips for teens, but what should parents know before letting their teens go party?
When you allow your children to have fun and socialize in environments and groups of friends unfamiliar to you, prepare them for the dangers that may await them. Share your opinions and experiences with them so they can engage themselves and their friends with important safety tips. It's crucial that every teen is familiar with the good side of fun, but also the pitfalls, so they can prevent situations with worrisome endings[v].
[i]Campbel, L., The Guardian, ,,Hundreds of UK drink spiking reports in the past two months'', October 23 2021, accessible at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/23/hundreds-of-uk-drink-spiking-reports-in-the-past-two-months, last accessed 21/12/2021.
[iii] Positive Choices, Drink spiking? March 15 2021, accessible link at: https://positivechoices.org.au/parents/drink-spiking, last accessed 21/12/2021.
[iv] Better health Channel, ,,Drink spiking'', October 14 2020, accessible at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/drink-spiking, last accessed 21/12/2021
[v] Positive Choices, Drink spiking? March 15 2021 accessible at: https://positivechoices.org.au/parents/drink-spiking, last accessed 21/12/2021.