The Psychology of Spiking Drinks

Don’t ask how you can avoid it, but why people do it
March 10, 2022
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Putting drugs in a victim’s drink used to be the main method of spiking, but more lethal methods have come into play | © siamionau pavel / Shutterstock

Across the UK, a movement has emerged to tackle the newest trend in spiking – the needle method.

After a spate of incidents involving date rape drugs being administered via injection, women across the country wanted to put the burden of their safety back on the club owners and local governments. 

So along came Girls’ Night In. The concept has boycotted clubs and bars across the country as part of its mission statement, hoping that their owners will take action to prevent the epidemic of drink spiking. 

As Instagram account @girlsnightinedinburgh said:

“We are asking clubs and bars to provide free drinks protection devices (drink divers etc.)

We are asking clubs and bars to provide a clear and obvious medical center and a safe way to get home.”

You can’t put it more simply than that. 

But one can wonder why women still have to ask for help in the first place. 

© @girlsnightinedinburgh / Instagram

We got wise to accepting free drinks, so spikers slipped substances into ours. We started covering our drinks and even testing them, so spikers decided to administer the drugs via needle. 

In truth, spiking arises from a messed-up melting pot of dark desires, need for control, and an opportunity to evade accountability.

And it’s on the rise, increasing by over 108% in only three years, according to Global Citizen.

In this game of cat and mouse, the victim never wins as long as they need to constantly alter their self-protection habits. At the end of the night, having fun while fearing for your safety isn’t much fun at all.

Spiking isn’t just a means to an end – for some perpetrators, the act is an end in itself

So why do people spike? Why do people, particularly men (while it’s not just men who do it, statistically speaking, there are mostly men) choose to go out of their way to find innovative methods of spiking people? Again, not just women, though the same stats highlight that they’re the most vulnerable group.

They got the grim but self-explanatory reason of lowering the victim’s defences to theft, sexual or physical assault, rape, and murder. 

But there’s more to the phenomenon than hate crimes and date rape. Spiking isn’t just a means to an end – for some perpetrators, the act is an end in itself.

Not everyone gets their kicks in safe or ethical ways

 Secretly plying a friend with drink to stop them from being ‘boring’ is giving them substances without their consent | © Cristi Ursea / Unsplash

What we mean by this is that when thinking about why people spike, we realize that some do it for the pure joy of spiking. Yes, it sounds like a messed-up hobby because it is. 

Some drug others for the thrill of seeing them under their control. It’s a cruel rush to watch somebody lose all composure because you were the one responsible for it.

But not everyone gets their kicks in safe or ethical ways. 

And not everyone gets them by messing with strangers, either. Spiking your friends’ booze with party drugs to mellow them up isn’t uncommon. While it is a prevailing clubbing tradition, it’s still spiking – even if it’s done between mates.  

If you gave someone a substance they didn’t consent taking, you spiked them. Simple as that. 

You might not have intended to rob them, beat them up, or sexually assault them. Still, not all people who spike others do, which is another reason why the phenomenon is knotty to stamp out. 

The club is a space where you can do what you want without facing any consequences

 It’s going to take more than asking women to change their behaviors to stop spiking in night clubs | © Anna Shvets / Pexels

Spiking is endemic in nightclub culture, from the full-blown Rohypnol treatment to the MDMA sprinkling in a mate’s drink to get them to stop being uptight.

In the nightlife culture, clubs are the place where all inhibitions go out of the window. Thanks to this feature, non-consensual behaviors flourish.

It’s a dark, smoke-filled haze of lights and basslines where you can’t always be sure what’s going on around you. And people exploit that by getting away with things they wouldn’t do in daylight hours.

They grope, they fight, and now they even drug others through the power of the needle. Because why not? Clubs are the go-to spot to do what you want – without facing the predictable consequences.

It’s about seeing the nightclub as a space where you can show no regard for the wishes of others 

It goes without saying that it shouldn’t be. But consider how underreported and under-prosecuted nightlife crimes are. All thanks to the cloak of darkness, influx of strangers and lapses in memory brought on by alcohol and other substances.  

Sure, not all crimes are equal. But they all fall under the broad umbrella of seeing the nightclub as a space where you can show off unscrupulous behavior, just because you know you won’t be held accountable tomorrow morning.

Even if you are, you can plead innocence or ignorance. Or even bringing it upon the victim because they were intoxicated (that seems to go down a treat with the justice system).

We need to get under the skin of the phenomenon to stop people from pushing needles under ours

One of the first questions asked by the police after a crime is committed is “What was the motive?”. 

With a crime such as spiking, there’s often no straight answer for people’s decision to spike others. 

If we want to uproot it from our nightclubs, we need to get under the skin of the phenomenon to stop people from pushing needles under ours.


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