Support if you think you have been spiked

“Spiking” is when someone is given alcohol or drugs without their consent. Being spiked is never the fault of the victim. Often we think of spiking as the adding of drugs to a drink, and more recently spiking by injection, however spiking can also take the form of things like giving someone a different drug to the one they consented to taking or adding additional alcohol to drinks.

Spiking may be for malicious purposes (e.g., to cause fear or make someone more vulnerable to another crime, particularly sexual assault) or non-malicious but equally dangerous purposes (e.g., to make someone have “more fun”).

Whatever the motivation, administering drugs or alcohol, especially for sexual purposes, is a criminal offence and punishable by law. Our university takes such incidents very seriously and will investigate any complaints of spiking made under our Code of Student Discipline or our Staff Disciplinary Procedure (Ordinance 68, Part 2, Schedule 2).

We continue to proactively work with our partners to improve safety for students and staff in venues across Stirling, and promote healthy relationships and consent to students via our Don’t be a bystander, be a friend module. We strongly encourage all students to take this module during their first year at University.

Types of spiking

Drink spiking

Drink spiking is when someone administers alcohol or drugs to another person via a drink without obtaining their consent. This may make the person more vulnerable and can be carried out for a variety of motives, including theft or sexual assault.

Drink spiking can happen to all types of drink, not just alcoholic drinks, and can be carried out by adding shots of alcohol to drinks, causing someone to become drunk very quickly, or by adding drugs that are designed to incapacitate.

It is very hard to tell if a drink has been tampered with, as these drugs can be odourless, colourless, and tasteless.

Spiking by injection

Spiking by injection is when a drug is administered directly into a person via a needle without the person’s knowledge or consent. Injection spiking can pose additional health risks due to its use of a needle. The effects are reported to be similar to drink spiking but with pain or bruising at the point of injection.

Whilst very serious, confirmed instances of spiking by injection are very rare.

You can find further information on spiking on the Young Scot and Drinkaware websites.

Common symptoms of spiking

Victims of spiking can experience a variety of different symptoms, Drinkaware list some of the most common as:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

The symptoms someone may experience will vary depending on the substance or mix of substances used, how much alcohol already consumed, and the size and weight of the person spiked.

Being spiked can be a scary experience.

Our Student Support Team can help you if this happens to you. If you believe there was a sexual motive or if you have been sexually assaulted, our Sexual Violence and Misconduct Liaison Officers (SVMLOs) can provide more specialised support, such as referrals to specialist agencies or support to help resume your academic studies.

What to do if you think you have been spiked

If you feel you are in immediate danger or seriously unwell

  • If you are in immediate physical danger call 999 and ask for the Police.
  • If you are out with friends you trust, ask them to help you and report it to a member of staff at the venue.
  • If you are alone, ask for help from a member of the venue staff. In university venues you can use the code of asking for Angela, this applies to many external venues also.
  • If you are feeling seriously unwell, ask a trusted friend to escort you to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department (the nearest to campus is at Forth Valley Hospital, Stirling Road, Larbert, FK5 4WR) or call 999 for an ambulance.
  • If you are on campus you can call the Security Team any time 24/7 on 01786 467003 / 01786 467999.

If you feel you are not in immediate danger

  • If you are with friends you can trust, report the incident to a member of staff at the venue and ask your friends to escort you home.
  • If you are alone, ask for help from a member of venue staff – in university venues you can use the code of asking for Angela, this applies to many external venues also. Don’t go home alone or leave with someone you don’t know well.
  • Call 101 as soon as possible to report the incident to the Police. Substances can leave the body within 12 hours and so it’s important to contact them early so they can test your urine or blood.
  • Contact your GP or 111 for non-urgent medical advice.
  • If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, you are encouraged to report this directly to the Police on 101. You can also contact the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS) 24/7 on 0800 148 88 88. This is particularly important if you need forensic samples or evidence of the assault to be collected.
  • Access support from the University Sexual Violence and Misconduct Liaison Officers (SVMLOs) by submitting a report on Report and Support. SVMLOs can provide support such as referrals to emotional support or specialist agencies, or support to help resume your academic studies.

Helping a friend if you suspect they have been spiked

If you think a friend has been spiked and they are showing any of the symptoms above, you can:

  • Call 999 for an ambulance if they are seriously ill.
  • Get help from a member of staff at the venue. In university venues you can use the code of asking for Angela, this applies to many external venues also.
  • Stay with them and keep talking to them.
  • Escort them home – don’t let them leave alone or leave with someone you don’t know or trust.

Ways to help avoid being spiked

There is no excuse for spiking. All responsibility is with the perpetrator who has committed the crime, and the victim is never to blame.

All venues that are licensed to sell alcohol have a legal duty for public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder on their premises, and this is monitored by their local authority.

Perpetrators will spike any type of drink, including non-alcoholic drinks, and spiking can occur at any venue, public or private, including parties in houses.

You can help prevent a perpetrator from spiking your drink by:

  • Watching you and your friends’ drinks being served.
  • Use an anti-drink spiking device, such as a Spikey or lid cover.
  • Never leave drinks unattended - keep them in your hand or in sight.
  • Do not accept drinks from anyone that you don’t know.
  • If you are unsure about your drink, don’t drink it.

Remember: If your drink is spiked, it is not your fault. Our Student Support Team and SVMLOs can provide support and advice on your options via support via Report and Support.

Ask for Angela

Our campus venue staff are trained in Ask for Angela. This is a national campaign which started in Lincolnshire in 2016 to help people who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened while out.

If you go to one of our venue staff and ask for ‘Angela’ they will know you need some help getting out of your situation and will look to assist you. This might be through reuniting you with a friend, taking you to a taxi, or by calling venue security and/or the police. 


A lit-up taxi sign at night

Safe Taxi Scheme

The University of Stirling Safe Taxi Scheme was designed in consultation with the Students' Union, Police Scotland, Stirling Council and Stirling Taxi Association.

Its purpose is to support students in emergency circumstances, by helping them get home safely if they run out of money.

Find out how the Safe Taxi Scheme works

What to expect from your Students’ Union

The Students’ Union works closely with the University and local authorities to ensure that your night out both here on campus and in Stirling and the surrounding area is as safe as possible.

Within the venues run by the Students’ Union, your safety is our top priority. As such, if there is anything you are concerned about (including if you are worried your drink has been spiked) please report this to a member of staff at the time so we can help support you. If you think a drink may have been spiked, we’ll be able to test it and give you the help and support you need. The Union also promotes the Ask for Angela and Safe Taxi scheme, have CCTV in operation in our outlets and spikeys for use in bottles as well as water being freely available. Anyone found to have been engaging in drink spiking will face disciplinary action and be reported to the police.