real life

"I was vomiting, urinating and screaming." Ruby had her drink spiked at a friend's party.

Ruby* was used to going to parties where people ended up vomiting, or passed out or doing silly things.

She was 18, it’s what you did.

But at one particular house party just before they all trudged back to school to sit their HSC exams, she found herself vomiting, wetting her pants and screaming on the footpath of a classmate’s house.

She’d had her drink spiked. 

How do you talk to your teens about alcohol? Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

The Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation says drink spiking is common, but we actually don’t know how common because it’s so underreported. The most recent figures are from 2003 which estimated there were about 4000 incidents that year. Even still, they’re just the cases we know about.

This gathering of about 40 classmates and friends was like any other party that year. Ruby had consumed three cruisers which she’d bought herself and was sipping on a vodka orange which had been supplied by the house (she suspects from the absent parent’s liquor cabinet) when things took a turn.

“You know when you have that quiet moment when you reach peak drunk and you go into a bedroom and have a DnM (deep and meaningful) with your friend?” Ruby told Mamamia.

“Well, that was happening and I started sweating a lot. I never sweat and I was just dripping,” she explained.

Ruby also started to go really red, so suspecting she was perhaps just overheating, she hopped in the shower to cool down. It didn’t help, soon Ruby’s eyes started to roll into the back of her head.

Drink spiking is extremely common, but we don't know how common because it's so under reported. Image: Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

"I was unconscious  - I wasn't responding. I don't remember this but apparently I was looking at her [my friend] straight in the eye and not responding," said Ruby.

Concerned about leaving her alone in the room, Ruby's friend moved her to a couch where she started to shake. She'd woken up by this point and was slurring her words.

Panicked, her friends took her out to the front of the house and as Ruby told Mamamia, "that's when the full-blown attack started".

"I was on the pavement and I was vomiting and urinating myself and screaming. I couldn't stop. It was terrifying... I remember waking up mid throw up but a lot of it I don't remember at all," she said.

Ruby was rushed to the hospital where traces of GHB (liquid ecstasy) and ketamine (a horse tranquilliser) were found in her system.

Looking back, a now 23-year-old Ruby is still perplexed by that night. She knew everyone at the party, she still does - and yet she still doesn't know who spiked her drink.

Ruby kept the whole incident from her parents, recovering at her cousin's house for a few days so they wouldn't suspect. There was no way she was telling them, let alone the police.

She also remembers feeling "lucky," lucky that she only had her drink spiked and she wasn't sexually assaulted which is the combination she'd been warned about at school.

To her, it didn't seem like that much of a big deal so she put it behind her and just went back to partying with her friends.

Keeping kids safe at Schoolies. Post continues after podcast.

But what happened to Ruby is a crime, a crime that the Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation says needs to be taken more seriously.

As the foundation's spokesperson Melinda Lucas told Mamamia, "according to the law it's an offence even if that person has had nothing happen to them".

According to the 2003 research, four out of five drink spike victims are female and half are under the age of 24.

Ruby's case involved drugs, but the most common way to spike someone's drink is actually with alcohol.

"People often come out of it [the experience] going 'ok, maybe I just got back a bit too drunk'. Part of that's in the messaging [in society], but it's not okay for someone to get you more drunk. Getting you for instance a triple shot instead of a shot. It's that consent thing that's really important in this situation," explained Melinda.

ADVERTISEMENT
Close-up of bartender hand pouring cocktail
Even adding a double shot instead of a single shot without consent is considered a crime. Image: Getty.

At the moment Melinda says the Australian authorities who are trying to look into drink spiking are "flying in the dark a bit". With no figures to work with, they can't accurately respond to the issue.

Because drink spiking can come in so many forms and therefore have so many symptoms, Melinda's advice is to instead focus on preventing it from happening.

"In an ideal world we wouldn't have to say this but it's important to look at ways to protect yourself. Going out with trusted friends, buying your own drinks, going over to watch the bartender if someone else is buying the drink for you, keeping an eye on your drink," she listed off.

Melinda does admit it's "not the easiest thing to keep an eye on," and she also acknowledges that the core problem with the issue of drink spiking is that victims feel ashamed and are reluctant to report it in fear of "not being believed".

"It's extremely hard to be able to prove it. If you are in a large venue you can get some CCTV or something, but in many cases it's hard to prove the person didn't take the substance willingly. Consent is so hard to prove," Melinda told Mamamia.

So what happens instead?

Young, predominantly female victims choose instead to walk away from their drink spiking incidents and like Ruby did, "just put it behind them".

Scarily, we don't even know how many victims are out there.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons. The feature image used is a stock photo.

00:00 / ???