Say you go to a bar and enjoy a few drinks with your friends. As you’re revelling enjoying the crowd, the euphoria, and the music, you see a woman leave her table and her drink. The man she’s with pours a powder or drops a capsule in her drink. What would you do?
“What would you do” TV episode
In 2009, bar patrons in a New Jersey establishment were tested on a TV show called What Would You Do? In it, two actors were hired to play a couple on a date where the lady would then excuse herself to the washroom, and the man with her would spike her drink.
Patrons were then observed for their reactions. The first couple in question said nothing until the man excused himself. When the lady started complaining of feeling hot, the couple suggested she order another drink and take more water. The woman also gave maternal advice, telling her that ladies should always order a new drink when they leave their drinks unattended for any amount of time. The husband offered to buy her a new drink.
The second couple reacted differently. The husband stood up when the male actor dropped a powder in his female companion’s drink. He called him out, but the man denied it. When the lady returned, they said nothing until she started acting sick. The husband then told her to throw her wine away.
The actress wore a more revealing and provocative outfit on the third try. This time he made conversation with male patrons at the bar whom he made sure saw him dropping five times the same dosage when his companion went to the loo. He later excused himself, telling his date that the men at the bar would take care of her. But they said nothing. When he returned, he invited his date to his house, waiting to see if the patrons would say anything. They left without a word.
However, two older men approached the bartender, an actor for the TV show. They told him what was going on. On another day of filming, a lady called out the spiking, but he denied it. In the same modus operandi, he excused himself and left the table. The lady warned the actress about the drink and even later followed her to the bathroom to ensure she was ok.
The same was repeated for a guy being drugged but in that case people intervened more.
Read also: How To Know If Your Drink Has Been Spiked
When out on the town, heinous individuals with access to Rohypnol (roofie), ketamine, or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) use them to incapacitate their dates or unsuspecting revellers. They are also known as date rape drugs. GHB is an odourless pill or liquid that doesn’t alter the drink’s taste. Ketamine is a white powder, and roofies are pills.
GHB causes drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, slowed heart rate, loss of consciousness, and memory loss while drugged. Ketamine causes hallucinations, loss of time and identity, agitation, and loss of consciousness and coordination. Roofies lead to lower blood pressure, drowsiness, loss of muscle control, hallucinations, and memory loss while drugged. These drugs can lead to comas or death if overdone or when interacting with other medications.
There have been cases in multiple countries of people getting spiked with these drugs via injection. Upon waking up, survivors are robbed or sexually assaulted and can’t remember what happened. Most famously, four strippers in New York used ketamine and molly to drug rich male revellers from Wall Street to rob them. The women would drug the individuals and get them to part with amounts of up to $20,000. The molly made them happy, and the ketamine messed up their memories.
How can you protect your drink from being spiked?
With the individualism of most people, you can’t expect others to be aware of your need for safety. As shown in the TV show, many people would rather ignore the peril or do the bare minimum. Unfortunately, your safety has to be your priority.
If you go out alone, never leave your drink unattended. Don’t accept unopened drinks from strangers. Opt for bottled drinks or cans to remain closed until they reach your table. If you can, go out with your friends. Each of your friends should watch over each other’s drinks. When you arrive as a group, leave as a group. If one of them breaks off to hang out with a new friend, designate someone to stay with them or leave their phone able to track their movements. If you or one of your friends show symptoms of intoxication, seek medical attention immediately. Notify other patrons that there is someone spiking drinks.
What should you do if you see someone spiking drinks?
1. The bar
Every bar should have a protocol in place should anyone be at risk of spiking. In one story shared on Reddit, a user shared how a New Orleans bar reacted after it became known that someone was spiking drinks. When a lady approached the bar and told the bartender that she suspected her drink had been spiked, the bartender notified the manager. The lights all went on, and the manager stepped on the stage to announce that someone had been spiking drinks to all the patrons. He also offered to replace everyone’s current drink at no extra charge and told other women to let them know if they felt sick or faint. The lights stayed on, and the band remained silent for longer.
All establishments should have similar protocols in place should revellers feel that their drinks aren’t safe. Anyone apprehended for doctoring drinks should be reported to the authorities, and their face should be circulated to other establishments in the area to discourage this behaviour. The management should assist anyone who exhibits the symptoms of spiking to get immediate medical attention. The bar staff should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of intoxication.
Another bar in North Dakota had a sign in the women’s bathroom that notified patrons to ask for a Rachel at the bar if they felt drugged. This resulted from a community organisation effort known as Bartenders Against Sexual Assault.
2. The patrons
Call attention immediately if you are at a bar and see someone spiking a drink. Report the person to the management or security personnel to prevent it from happening again. If the spiker denies that they did it, warn their companion and stick to them if you are worried about their health. If they start displaying symptoms, take them to the hospital immediately.
While other people’s safety may not be your priority when you’re out having fun, it’s important to be vigilant for the sake of everyone’s safety. In addition, don’t let them leave if they look near unconscious. See something, say something is applicable in this situation, but ensuring the potential victim remains safe during their entire stay at the club is the best course of action.
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