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Safety tips to avoid your drink getting spiked this festive season

Safety tips to avoid your drink getting spiked this festive season

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There is a risk of overindulgence throughout the festive season, especially when it comes to alcohol, due to an increase in celebrations, parties, family get-togethers, work functions, and braais.

Drink spiking is particularly common over the holiday season, according to the TEARS Foundation, which provides a free, national programme focused on survivors of rape and sexual assault.

According to Mara Glennie, founder, and CEO of the TEARS Foundation, drink-spiking allegations begin to rise in October, with the majority of incidents occurring in December during holiday celebrations.

“The sad reality is that drink spiking and rape, sexual assault, abuse, and violence go hand in hand – if you suspect you’ve been physically or sexually assaulted it’s important to tell someone you trust.”

Seugnette van Wyngaard, CEO of 1st for Women, who collaborates closely with TEARS on anti-abuse initiatives, implores women to exercise caution this festive season.

She advises women to seek emergency medical assistance if they think their beverage may have been laced. Tell the medical team what happened and ask for a urine test as soon as possible so they can look for drugs before your body flushes them out.

Symptoms include: unsteadiness, nausea, fatigue, confusion, impaired vision, slurred speech, and difficulties with basic motor skills.

Safety tips to avoid your drink getting spiked this festive season
Drink spiking is most likely to occur at house parties, corporate events, restaurants, festivals, pubs, and clubs.Picture by cottonbro studio/Pexels

According to Peach Piche of Drinkerbell, an organisation that has created a product specifically to combat drink spiking, people who fall victim to egregious acts range from 14-year-olds to 70-year-olds.

This is something most likely to occur at house parties, corporate events, restaurants, festivals, pubs, and clubs.

Statistics regarding drink spiking are crucial for raising awareness and catching the perpetrators, who rob their victims of their choice and then assault them, said Piche.

“It is also not only an alcohol-related problem as water and soft drinks are spiked too with Rohypnol and a cocktail of other drugs.”

She adds: “The typical modus operandi used by drink spikers is to distract their victims and then add drops, tablets, or powder to their drinks. This leaves them at the mercy of criminals who will pounce on them in plain sight, or pretend to be a friend, loved one, or good Samaritan escorting them to a ‘place of safety’.

To help keep the women of South Africa safe over the 16 Days of Activism period, and beyond, 1st for Women, TEARS, and Drinkerbell offers the following advice:

Safety in numbers: Always go out in groups or pairs, keep track of one another, and if someone in the group is acting strangely, call it a night and head out together.

Stranger danger: Never accept a drink from an unfamiliar person or leave your drink unattended, unsupervised, or exposed. An open or unmonitored glass makes you vulnerable and easy prey. Make sure to observe the drink being poured if someone buys you a drink, even if you know them well.

Protect your drink: Use tools that are specifically designed to know whether your drink has been spiked and ask a trusted friend to watch your drink when you’re away which could very well save your life.

Taste test: Although it might be difficult to determine whether a drink has been spiked if it tastes off in any way — sweeter than usual or fizzier, for example — don't drink it. Particularly watch out for anyone who urges you to down your drink rapidly.

Wingwoman: Keep an eye out for your friends and guard them against strangers. Watch for any changes in behaviour and take care of their drinks. Help the person you fear is being targeted if you can, or contact security or the business manager if you don’t know them.

She adds, "The biggest mistake you can make is thinking ‘it can’t happen to me’. It may be if you’re not vigilant. Drink spiking is shockingly easy to do as one social experiment recently illustrated.”

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.

Original Article

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