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Spiking is a polysemous word , meaning it has several definitions ranging from impaling with something pointed , to a rapid rise in something , to being ‘ shot in the ass ’ – the last one is from the Urban Dictionary . The definition of ‘ spiked ’ that concerns us , though , is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person ’ s body without their consent . Spiking has been around as long as people have been getting intoxicated . It ’ s an old and far too common story that occurs for a variety reasons , ranging from revenge to a poor sense of humour to much darker motivations – spiking people or pets really isn ’ t funny or cool .

In fact , spiking someone for any reason at all is immoral and a form of chemical assault . If people want to make the hopefully informed decision to get high that ’ s fine with me ( law enforcement may view it differently ), but forcibly altering someone ’ s consciousness is always morally wrong . The darkest variety is to incapacitate someone as a prelude to an assault , often of a sexual nature , and specifically the
Was the recent spate of scare stories around needle spiking driven by something other than concern for potential victims , asks Nick Goldstein
recently much-reported alleged use of a syringe to deliver the spiking .
The first alleged cases date back to 2019 and quickly became ‘ a new phenomenon ’ according to Jason Harwin , the National Police Chiefs Council ’ s drugs lead . Incredibly the police received 1,382 reports of spiking with a needle in under six months – that ’ s compared with 1,903 total spikings for the entire preceding year . Universities , nightclubs , bars , student unions et al warned anyone with a pulse , and the BBC carried a special warning on the news . So , a huge new danger stalks the land , right ?
I ’ m not so sure , and I say that with some expertise on this subject . I might not have spiked anyone else , but I ’ ve spiked myself tens of thousands of times over decades . I wouldn ’ t claim to be an expert on astrophysics or Balinese shadow puppetry , but I am an expert in the baleful art of injecting drugs and my initial problems with spiking with a needle are technical .
Once one gets beyond the emotions and headlines and examines the idea of needle spiking with cold logic it starts to fall to pieces . Let ’ s take a look at the technical aspects . Firstly , you have to acquire a suitable drug . No point spiking someone with speed or LSD , you ’ re looking for a sedative or soporific , and even with the internet you need to be able to access illegal drugs . You also need to be sure the drug can be prepared for injection and know how to prepare it without losing the active drug in a pool of gunk that will just set and jam your works . Then you need to access an appropriate syringe – I ’ d imagine a smaller works would be best , maybe a . 5 ? Certainly anything above a 1ml would be useless . Do you know where to access works ? Because most people don ’ t .
Ok , we ’ ve got our drugs and works together . So , when are you going to prepare the drugs for use ? I can ’ t see prepping in a club or pub toilet being a good idea , but if you prep it at home how do you get the loaded syringe into a venue ? You really don ’ t want to carry a loaded syringe in your pocket because of the chance of accidentally depressing the plunger leaving you with an empty syringe and a wet pocket , but if you put the loaded syringe in a protective container it becomes more likely to be found by bouncers .
Anyway , let ’ s say we ’ ve managed to get a loaded works into a venue and I spot someone I want to spike . How is this done without anyone noticing , bearing in mind you have to stick someone with the syringe and then depress the plunger ? It is possible to use one hand for both tasks , but it ’ s not easy . So we ’ ve managed to inject someone in an often poorly lit and packed room . What then ? At best you ’ ve given an IM shot , which means it will come on slowly over 15-20 minutes . Do you follow the victim hoping she ’ ll somehow fall into your clutches ... really ?
Technically this makes no sense . Maybe I ’ m just being cynical , but in this case something more than my cynicism appears to be happening because there have been precisely zero convictions for this offence . In fact , not one person has even been charged . To be clear , I ’ m not claiming spiking with a needle never happens . It ’ s a large planet with a lot of people out there so most things will happen , but that doesn ’ t mean there ’ s some sort of epidemic of crazed perverts lurking in the bushes armed with a syringe and ill intent .
I believe what we are seeing in the media response to this subject is a good old-fashioned drug scare story . We ’ re appear to be in crack baby / marijuana fiends territory , and I expect in time needle spiking will be debunked too . The problems come when the media attention turns the scare story into political action , and with stretched budgets the last thing any of us needs is for money to be pissed away on a myth . Coda , this shouldn ’ t need saying again , but spiking with or without a needle is always wrong no matter the reason .
Nick Goldstein is a service user nemke / iStock