Having your drinks spiked is not an urban myth and a fifth of victims are men, a new study found.
Since the 90s there have been tales of people having their drinks spiked with either drugs such as the date rape drug Rohypnol, GHB or ketamine or extra shots added.
Even if a person is drugging someone else simply ‘for fun’ with no intent of taking advantage of the drugged person, the drugger is still putting a drug in someone else’s body without their consent - and this is coercive and controlling behaviourDoctor
US researchers set out to explore whether drink spiking was a growing problem or were tales of people who just drank too much
Dr Suzanne Swan of the University of South Carolina, looked at the survey data from 6,064 students at three universities.
She found 462 students or 7.8 per cent reported 539 incidents in which they said they had been drugged, and 83 or 1.4 per cent said either they had drugged someone, or they knew someone who had drugged another person.
She said: “These data indicate drugging is more than simply an urban legend.”
She found women were more likely to be the victims of spiking and reported more negative consequences than men such as rape, sexual assault or theft.
But men comprised 21 per cent of the victims.
Women were also more likely to report sexual assault as a motive while men more often said the purpose was “to have fun.”
Other, less common reported motives included to calm someone down or make someone go to sleep.
Yet Dr Swan warned: “Even if a person is drugging someone else simply ‘for fun’ with no intent of taking advantage of the drugged person, the drugger is still putting a drug in someone else’s body without their consent - and this is coercive and controlling behaviour.
“We have no way of knowing if the drugging victims were actually drugged or not, and many of the victims were not certain either.
“It is possible some respondents drank too much, or drank a more potent kind of alcohol than they were accustomed to.”
Additionally, many common drugs, including over-the-counter medications, can interact with alcohol.
And victims often don’t remember what happened when they were drugged,she noted.
Two previous studies looking at US college students and young adults found anywhere from 6 per cent to 8.5 per cent reported having been drugged by someone else.
One Australian study of 805 Australians age 18 to 35 found 25 per cent had experienced drink spiking.
Dr Swan warned students and young adults may be at more risk because they binge drink and said: “Because many of those who drug others believe the behaviour is fun and minimise the risks, interventions could provide information about the dangers of overdosing.
“They could also target the issue of consent.
“Just as people have a fundamental right to consent to sexual activity, they also have the right to know and consent to the substances they ingest.”
The study was published in the journal Psychology of Violence.