Student Wellbeing


A person’s drink can be spiked to make them more vulnerable for a variety of motives, including theft or sexual assault. (Drink Aware

Different types of spiking can include the following substances being added to drinks: 

  • Alcohol 
  • ‘Date rape’ drugs 
  • Illegal drugs 
  • Prescription drugs (e.g. stimulants, tranquilisers, sedatives, opiates) 

Drink spiking can happen to any type of drink, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The effects can be unpredictable but are likely to be more serious if someone who’s had their drink spiked has also consumed more alcohol, or other drugs. This is because of the combination of effects from the different drugs working at the same time. 

Shots of alcohol can be added to drinks to make them stronger, causing someone to get drunk much quicker than expected. Or sometimes a drink can be spiked with drugs that are specifically designed to incapacitate someone. 

Recently, the media has covered accounts of people experiencing needle spiking – where unknown substances are injected into victims with hypodermic needles. It is unclear how prevalent spiking is in the UK, although the UK government launched an inquiry into spiking which can be read here.

Northumbria Police take reports of drinks and needle spiking very seriously and will investigate every report they receive. Find out more about Northumbria Police’s commitment to combatting spiking here.

Newcastle University is an environment where misconduct and criminal behaviour are never tolerated. We strongly believe that responsibility for this kind of incident lies solely with the people who commit these offences, and we believe that spiking is a criminal matter. 

Symptoms of drink spiking

(From Drink Aware)

The effects of spiking vary depending on what you’ve been spiked with. Your symptoms could include: 

  • Lowered inhibitions 
  • Loss of balance 
  • Feeling sleepy 
  • Making a snoring sound when passed out/sleeping
  • Visual problems 
  • Confusion 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Unconsciousness 

 The symptoms will depend on lots of factors such as the substance or mix of substances used (including the dose), your size and weight, and how much alcohol you may have consumed. 

What should I do if I have been spiked?

If you or a friend start to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, then get help straight away. You can attend your local Accident and Emergency for emergency medical care or dial 111 for less urgent help.

It is important to note that medical services do not have tests that can confirm if you have been injected or ingested a substance. Testing for spiking is conducted by the Police, not the hospital. If you are concerned about exposure to blood borne viruses screening and vaccination can be arranged by your GP. More information about blood borne viruses and needle stick injuries can be found here.

If you think a friend has been spiked, and they are showing any of the symptoms described above there are a few things you can do to help (From Drink Aware): 

  • Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff 
  • Stay with them and keep talking to them 
  • Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates 
  • Don’t let them go home on their own 
  • Don’t let them leave with someone you don’t know or trust 
  • Don’t let them drink more alcohol - this could lead to more serious problems 

Reporting and support options for survivors

Safety First 

If someone is in immediate danger or is seriously injured call 999 and ask for the appropriate responders. 

Additionally, if you are on Newcastle University Campus, inform Newcastle University Security about what has happened using the Safe Zone app or by calling 0191 208 6666.  

Survivor Support Service

Our Survivor Support Service provides free, confidential, non-judgemental support for all survivors of spiking. Colleagues will provide a safe space for you to tell us about what has happened and offer guidance on your support and formal reporting options. To make an anonymous disclosure or to seek support you can use our Online Disclosure and Referral form or email

Time frames for testing for substances is short, so if you would like to report to the Police and request testing you should contact the Police as soon as possible. You can report online here or dial 101 for non-emergency reporting.

However, remember that you do not have to make any formal report to the Police or the University to receive free and confidential support from the Survivor Support Service.

 Support we may offer survivors includes but is not limited to:

  • Specialist counselling for survivors (we have provision for all genders) 
  • Support to access an external support service such as Victim Support 
  • Information and support on pursuing a formal report to the University (if you are reporting another student or colleague) 
  • Support to inform your school of any support you might need with your studies because of what’s happened (if you consent to this – we will not automatically inform your school) 
  • Referral to specialist advice and guidance on areas such as finances, housing, and disability  

It may be a good idea to speak to your Personal Tutor or Research Supervisor to inform your school of the impact your experiences have had upon your studies and where this has had a negative impact on an assignment/examination you can seek an adjustment via the PEC system.