Drink Spiking


Drink spiking occurs when a substance is unknowingly added to your drink. This may affect how you act or behave with other people. These effects can affect someone’s judgement and in extreme cases incapacitate them, both of which can put them at risk of harm and/or serious crime. Drink spiking can be committed for a number of reasons, such as to facilitate sexual assault, facilitate theft or assault, or for amusement.  Women are more frequently spiked than men, but everyone is at risk and anyone can help.



Common Drugs


Common drugs used for spiking drinks can come as powders, tablets or liquids, but will not have a noticeable flavour or colour. Some may be illegal drugs and some are prescription medications. Such examples include;

  • Alcohol
  • Ketamine
  • GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) or GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) 
  • Benzodiazepines, such as Diazepam, Rohypnol, Temazepam 
  • Zopiclone. 



The Effects


The effects are variable, and may be affected by dosage, amount of alcohol consumed and the victim. Some warning signs may include;

  • Drowsiness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling confused or disorientated
  • Difficulty speaking or slurring words
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Distorted hearing or vision
  • Paranoia
  • Amnesia (loss of memory).
  • Temporary loss/change of body sensation, such as feeling like you are floating.
  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Loss of consciousness.


This may happen very quickly (within 30 minutes) and can last for up to six to eight hours. Sedative drugs, such as those listed above, when combined with alcohol can have much stronger effects, and can cause fatalities.


If your drink has been spiked, it is unlikely that you will be able to see, taste or smell the new substance, so prevention is key.



What to do if you think that you have been spiked


If you feel like you may have been spiked, tell someone you trust as soon as possible. This may be a close friend, member of bar staff or security, a police officer, medical professional or relative. If you aren't with anyone you can trust, then call someone and get to safe space. Be wary of accepting help from a stranger and don't leave with someone you don't know.


If you or someone you know starts to feel like you may have been spiked, you should go to the hospital with a trusted person. In an emergency, you should dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.


It is important to be aware of the effects of being spiked so that you can be mindful of your own safety, but also to be aware of the safety of other people. If you start to feel like you may have been spiked, or a friend starts behaving differently, then you can take action.


Drink spiking is a crime so, when you are sure there is no immediate danger, please read our Victim of Crime page for information on how to report it to the authorities. There is also information on this page about the support you can access at University.


If you have experienced any kind of violence, abuse, or unacceptable behaviour and you would like support, we can help. Please find some related support links below.



Reporting and accessing support

Would you like to report what has happened to South Wales Police? If this is the right option for you, please find ways to contact the police below:


You can report anything suspicious, or any situation that makes you concerned about your safety or the safety of others. You can contact South Wales Police on 101 or contact the emergency services on 999 if you think you are in immediate danger. You can also report an incident to South Wales Police online:

Email: publicservicecentre@south-wales.police.uk.

Website: bit.ly/SWPReportOnline




The following steps may help prevent someone from spiking your drink:

  • Never leave your drink unattended;
  • Never accept a drink from anyone you don't know or trust;
  • Keep an eye on your friends' drinks;
  • Consider sticking to bottled drinks and holding your thumb over the opening between sips;
  • Keep your drink in your hand instead of on a surface;
  • Don't share or exchange drinks;
  • Don’t drink leftover drinks. “No minesweeping”;
  • It's important to remember that if you've already been drinking, it may make you less aware of any danger;
  • Before going out, let someone know where you're going and what time you expect to be home;
  • Make plans for your journey home with friends & don't leave without each other;
  • If you need to get a Taxi home, call a reputable company, and if you don't have the money on you, then use our safe taxi scheme. You can call Dragon on  029 2033 3333, quoting "Safe taxi scheme, your student number and name".



Cardiff Students' Union Safety Initatives


Cardiff Students’ Union has been working with local partners for many years to deliver other initiatives that will help to safeguard your personal safety at night. These initiatives are available for any Cardiff University student to use: 


Safety Bus 

We have partnered with South Wales Police to deliver the Cardiff Safety Bus. The bus patrols the city centre every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night and will provide help to anyone who needs it.


Private Medical Staff 

During each club night event, we pay for private medically trained staff, with a minimum of at least two trained paramedics, to be in our venues to support with any medical issues that occur.


Safe Taxi Scheme 

No matter where students are in Cardiff, you can get home safely with just your student card thanks to our Safe Taxi Scheme. We work in partnership with Dragon Taxis to help students get home safely without any cash. Find more information about the scheme here.


Drink Spiking Testing Kits

We take the personal safety of our attendees very seriously. If you believe you have been spiked in our venues, please report to a staff member who will alert the onsite paramedic for assistance. We have invested in drink testing kits to give you immediate testing options at our venues and would encourage any student who is concerned about themselves or a friend at our events to speak to a staff member to access one of these. 


Please do not be hesitant of taking a spiking test kit in the Union, no action will be taken as a result of a positive test for drugs taken knowingly. Medical staff are employed for your safety.


Drink Toppers

Spikey Bottles are also available free of charge at all Cardiff SU bars for those wanting added drink protection. We have ordered drink covers for larger glasses.


Some other clubs may offer “Spikey” anti-spike drinks stoppers. These are small plastic stoppers that fit into the top of a standard-sized bottle and have an aperture only large enough for a straw. Once a straw is inserted, it becomes very difficult to add anything to the drink, and so they reduce the risk of being spiked. These products are single-use and only protect drinks served in bottles.  


You should still be cautious if using these devices. Be very wary, for example, if accepting drinks from strangers, as the drink could be spiked before you put your stopper in.


Security staff 

We employ a large security team to ensure the safety of attendees at events. This includes several dedicated positions in observational roles to watch for, and act on, inappropriate behaviour. 


Searches on Entry 

We conduct random searches as a condition of entry. For occasional events, sniffer dogs are utilised to support the identification of illegal substances. We have a zero-tolerance approach to possession of drugs in our venues, those caught can face a lifetime ban to all events (club nights, gigs and external events) and we may report to the police.  


Extensive CCTV and Body Cameras 

We have invested heavily in a CCTV system that has over 300 cameras in operation across our venues. On top of this, many of our security staff will be wearing body cameras to support gaining footage of incidents where required to aide police investigations. 


Staff Training Programme 

We’re developing our staff training programme to include information about how to handle inappropriate behaviours and to spot signs of drink tampering. 

These initiatives are regularly reviewed to understand effectiveness and we welcome any feedback or improvement suggestions by emailing SUCustomerServices@cardiff.ac.uk


NHS Advice


Please see the NHS pages for more information about drink spiking, the symptoms of drink spiking, what to do if your drink has been spiked and how to prevent your drink being spiked.


How we Keep You Safe in Our Venues


Y Plas night club is one of the largest Students’ Union clubs in the UK. Each week, on average 8,000 students attend the popular club nights – we are proud that these events are a core part of the Cardiff student experience for a large proportion of the student body. 


Supporting students to have fun in a safe manner will always be a fundamental part of how we organise and deliver events. As a not-for-profit venue, we invest heavily in safety initiatives which we have outlined below. In return, we require our attendees to help keep themselves and others in the club safe by playing their part to keep the student community safe and ensuring at all times, their behaviours in the club are in line with our code of practice. 


Whilst serious incidents in our clubs are minimal, we are aware that damaging and, on occasion, harmful activity can still occur. We take all reports of inappropriate, harmful and unlawful behaviours incredibly seriously and want to encourage any student who experiences these types of behaviours to report it. Our staff and security team are on hand during events to handle complaints, if you do not feel comfortable reporting at the time, please see the Reporting and Accessing Support section below.


We also ask you and your peers to be vigilant of our Student Behaviour Expectations if you are entering our venues.


Student Advice

Student Advice is a free, confidential and independent service available for students of Cardiff University. We are independent of the University and our role is to give you impartial advice and guidance and help you understand the options available to you.

If your being spiked impacts your wellbeing and/or ability to study and perform at your usual level, we can, amongst other things:

  • advise you on how to report Extenuating Circumstances to the University;
  • advise you on how to submit and Academic Appeal if you have missed the Extenuating Circumstances deadline, or you circumstances have been refused;
  • advise you on how to take an Interruption of Study and what you need to think about when deciding what to do;
  • signpost you to other support services.


Contact Student Advice

+44 (0)2920 781410



Cardiff University Students’ Union, registered in Wales. Nothing here in contained constitutes an order for goods or services unless accompanied by an official order

Telephone | 029 2078 1400 Email | StudentsUnion@Cardiff.ac.uk Website | cardiffstudents.com Address | Park Place Cardiff CF10 3QN Charity No. | 1137163 Company Registration No. | 07328777
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