Drink spiking incidents involving illicit drugs are ‘rare’, says Oz researcher

June 15th, 2009 - 4:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, June 15 (ANI): A study conducted in Australia suggests that binge drinking and illicit drug use are far greater problems than drink spiking.

Dr. Mark Little, a clinical toxicologist at the Royal Perth Hospital, says that suspected victims of drink spiking are more likely to be suffering from drugs and alcohol they have willingly consumed.

He came to this conclusion after reviewing 100 suspected drink-spiking cases, and finding that sedatives or illicit drugs were not involved in any of them.

The researcher instead says that there emerged a concerning picture of excess alcohol and illegal drug use by people, usually young women, at the centre of these drink-spiking claims.

“The public’s perception that it’s a guy putting a sedative drug into a woman’s drink, at a pub or a club, we just didn’t find that at all,” News.com.au quoted him as saying.

“As a community, we have a bigger problem with illicit drug use and alcohol binge drinking than we do with drink spiking,” he added.

The study included 101 people who were taken to two Perth hospitals as suspected victims of drink spiking over 19 months. Almost 90 per cent were the subjects were females, and a majority of them were aged 25 or younger.

About 70 per cent of the cases involved an alleged drink spiking at a nightclub or hotel, usually in the four hours straddling midnight and over a weekend.

Referring to the test results, Dr. Little revealed that those people had an average blood alcohol level of .096 on arrival at hospital, almost double the legal limit for driving.

According to him, about 28 per cent of them had illicit drugs in their system, mainly amphetamines and cannabis, which they admitted taking.

“We did not identify a single case where a sedative drug was likely to have been illegally placed in a drink,” he said.

Dr. Little further revealed that in five of the cases studied, people’s stated alcohol intake substantially did not match their blood alcohol level.

He reckons that there in those cases, possibly, soft drinks were unknowingly topped up with alcohol, or alcoholic drinks made extra strong.

“It’s more the case of the girl who likes vodka and orange, let’s give her a double, a triple (shot of vodka),” he said.

“We also found nearly all people were unconcerned with the amount of alcohol they had drank. When we said the average dose was about eight standard drinks … they weren’t concerned about that at all,” he added.

Dr. Little revealed that upon being confronted with their test results, 35 per cent of the study participants continued to believe that they had been spiked.

Based on his observations, Dr. Little came to the conclusion that real cases of drink spiking involving sedating or illicit drugs are “rare”, and “if drink spiking is going to occur, it will probably involve alcohol”.

A research article on the study has been published in the journal Emergency Medicine Australasia. (ANI)

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