Stay safe this party season
Monday 14 December 2009
The Christmas party season means fabulous dresses, scrumptious food and fancy cocktails. But Police are reminding women that it can also mean heavy drinking and drink spiking.
It’s a scary thought but Police are warning party goers to be on full alert over the festive season when it is felt women are more vulnerable sex attacks.
Anti-drug rape campaigners the Roofie Foundation said an estimated 9,887 people in Britain have been victims of drug rape and the overwhelming majority are women.
The Association of Chief Police Officers have launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the increased risk of sex attacks over the festive period when more people are out drinking heavily.
So what are the symptoms of date rape drugs? The NHS official website claims that “The effect of any drug will depend on your body shape and size, your age, how much of the spiked drink you have consumed, and how much alcohol (if any) you have already drunk.”
Date rape drugs can come in powder and liquid forms and may not have a taste or smell that you can identify. The most commonly used date rape drugs are gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), tranquilizers, most often benzodiazepines, including valium and rohypnol and ketamine.
Alcohol is also a common date rape drug as it can be added to a soft drink or even an alcoholic drink. The drugs slow down your nervous system, and dull your responses and your instincts. The NHS warns women to be on the look out for any of these symptoms when drinking:
* drowsiness or light headedness
* difficulty concentrating
* feeling confused or disorientated, particularly after waking up (if you have been asleep)
* difficulty speaking, or slurring your words
* loss of balance and finding it hard to move
* lowered inhibitions
* paranoia (a feeling of fear or distrust of others)
* amnesia (memory loss) or a ‘black-out’ of events (when you cannot remember large sections of your evening),
* temporary loss of body sensation (feeling like you are floating above your body, or having an ‘out of body’ experience)
* visual problems, particularly blurred vision
* hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or touching things that are not really there)
* nausea and vomiting
If you think that you’re drink may have been spiked the NHS advise you to tell a friend or the senior management of the pub, club or bar you are in. Get to a safe place as soon as possible and only go home with people you trust.
You will need someone to stay with you until the drugs have fully left your system, which will probably be the next day. This is incase your symptoms get worse and you are unable to look after yourself. If you are experiencing symptoms of drowsiness, hallucinations or vomiting go to your nearest A&E department.
If you have been the victim an assault or robbery then you must contact the police and you may need to seek medical attention.
So how can we prevent our drink being spiked? The NHS advises the following:
* keep your drink in your hand, and hold your thumb over the opening if you are drinking from a bottle
* keep an eye on your friend’s drinks
* do not leave your drink unattended at any time, even while you are in the toilet
* never accept a drink from anyone you do not know or trust
* do not share or exchange drinks, or drink leftover drinks
* when possible, drink from a bottle rather than a glass because it is more difficult to spike a drink in a bottle,
* stay away from situations that you do not feel comfortable with
* if you go on a date with someone who you do not know, tell a friend or relative where you will be and what time you will be back
* do not give away too much information to anyone you have just met, such as your address
* do not show off expensive equipment, like mobile phones, or MP3 players, as you may attract unwanted attention
* remember that if you have already been drinking, you will be more vulnerable because alcohol dulls your instincts and your awareness of danger
* do not become complacent - always remember that it could happen to you
Looking for some other ways to stay safe? Here are a few handy gadgets!
The brand Ila security have developed a personal safety alarm they say “emits a piercing, high decibel female scream designed to shock and disorientate an attacker. It's a discreet stylish accessory that can be kept close at hand.” You can purchase this safety alarm from M&S and Next or on their official website.
2 Love My is a new cosmetic range that aims to give women the confidence to feel beautiful and stay in control. They have developed a lip-gloss that doubles up as a drink spike detector test. The lip-gloss, which will cost £9.99, comes with special test strips which turn blue immediately when signs of substances such as GHB or ketamine are present. 2 Love My Lips claim their product is a necessity for all modern women in social situations. For more information on the product, log into their website at www.2lovemylips.co.uk.
So remember to enjoy yourself this party season, but take the recommended precautions and keep yourself safe! For more information on drink spiking, log onto the NHS’s official website.
By Katherine Romero