Drink spike victims more likely to be binge drinkers

Most people presenting to accident and emergency departments claiming their drink has been ‘spiked’ are likely to have simply consumed too much alcohol, a Welsh research study has found.

For 12 months, beginning in October 2004, researchers from Wrexham County Borough monitored all patients attending the A&E department of Wrexham Maelor Hospital alleging their drink had been tampered with.

A total of 75 patients presented during this time, and samples from 42 patients were tested. Eight of these samples tested positive for drugs, however none contained ketamine, GHB or rohypnol – substances most commonly associated with drink spiking. Most patients presenting to the department did so on the night of the alleged incident, so even drugs with a short detection window should still have shown up. Cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamine and opiates, specifically codeine and morphine, were detected. Researchers did also note that some of the patients may have had their drinks spiked with alcohol.

‘Our study showed a much higher detection rate for alcohol,’ the researchers stated. ‘Claiming their drink has been spiked may also be used as an excuse by patients who have become incapacitated after the voluntarily consumption of alcohol.

‘There have been a number of publicity campaigns in recent years to raise awareness of drink spiking. Emphasis should also be laid on how excess alcohol consumption makes people more vulnerable to assaults and injury.’

The research findings have been published in the latest edition of Emergency Medicine Journal.

Drink and Drugs News, 26 February 2007, [www.drinkanddrugs.net]

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