How to recognize it and what to do if your friend is drugged
Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault and date rape.
You’re standing in the kitchen at a house party chatting to new friends, or jumping on a bed to the music of an AUX cord DJ in a crowded residence room. Suddenly, you’re laying in bed the next morning with no recollection of what happened. You feel sick, too hungover despite only having four coolers the night before.
This is a terrifying experience that may resonate with more people than you would think. It may seem like this is something that only ever happens on large, anonymous campuses, but this is sadly not the case. While sexual assault and date rape are the fault of the perpetrator, it is still important to know what to do if this happens to you or someone you know.
Symptoms you may if you are drugged are similar to those of being drunk. They include drowsiness, blurred vision, nausea, racing heart, dry mouth, feeling like you’re in a dream, sudden mood changes, loss of coordination, or feeling numb.
The next morning you may have little recollection of the night before, despite drinking no more alcohol than usual. You may also feel extremely hungover, or hear things from your friends such as: “Wow, you were super drunk last night, I didn’t think you drank that much,” or “I had to carry you home and put you to bed.”
Some red flags to look for if you think a friend may have been drugged include extreme drowsiness, slurred speech, clumsy, uncoordinated movements, nausea, vomiting, tremors, cool, clammy skin or hot flushed skin, rapid pulse, sweating, slow or shallow breathing. People may also exhibit these symptoms as a result of alcohol poisoning, which still requires medical attention.
Alcohol is considered the most common date rape drug. A sexual assault that occurs after a night of drinking is still an indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
If you’re in residence and you suspect that you or a friend may have been drugged, find an on-duty RA immediately. They are trained to deal with these situations, and will be able to deal with calling 911 and monitoring you in case you pass out or begin vomiting.
If you’re at the pub, you can call 911 yourself, or get help from a pub staff member (I recommend the security ladies who check purses by the bathroom).
If you’re at the Inn, ask the staff members (cont. page 15) (cont. from page 14) in the bright green t-shirts. If you’re at a house party, find a buddy (a friend you came with or the soberest person you can find) to help you get medical attention.
Regardless of whether or not you’re positive you have been drugged, it is safer to go get checked out than to potentially overdose, or suffer from alcohol poisoning. If a sexual assault has occurred, hospital staff can also connect you to the sexual assault nurse examiner.
I’m not going to tell you the things to do to avoid getting your drink spiked, as these lessons have been taught over and over: “Don’t leave your drink unattended, don’t drink from a communal bowl or cup, don’t accept drinks from strangers, only drink from a sealed container, take a self-defence class, purchase colour changing nail polish that detects date rape drugs, buy a chastity belt on Amazon and hide the key in a dragon-guarded castle, etc.” Fuck that.
These are simple fixes to an extremely complex problem. Sexual violence, including that facilitated via spiking drinks, is a systemic, society-wide issue. This issue can only be addressed by changing the culture and sending the message that sexual violence is never okay.
This paradigm shift away from rape culture manifests itself in a wide variety of ways, including dismantling toxic masculinity and gender roles, eliminating sexist dress codes in schools, teaching children about bodily autonomy and consent from an early age, eliminating street harassment and rape jokes, holding perpetrators accountable (regardless of their future career prospects or athletic ability), ensuring justice and believing victims and survivors.