Research undertaken at a major Welsh hospital suggests the vast majority of cases involving alleged spiking of drinks are more likely caused by binge drinking.
The year-long study at Wrexham Maelor Hospital was designed to assess the scale of drink-spiking in the area and identify problems at specific clubs and pubs but found that less than one in five patients who claimed their drinks were spiked showed any trace of drugs.
The hospital maintains this proves that patients’ symptoms were more likely to be the result of excess alcohol and the use of so-called “date rape” drugs include ketamine, Rohypnol and GHB, is not widespread. The research, published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, found 65% were twice the legal drink-driving limit, and 24% were three times the drink-drive limit.
The study follows work pioneered by Cardiff-based surgeon Professor Jonathan Shepherd to provide a method for hospital casualty units to compile statistics on the drink-related assaults.
He claimed the Wrexham study “puts to bed a myth that’s very widely held that drinks are spiked when in reality they are not” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/north_east/6367037.stm).
The survey and Prof Shepherd’s work does raise important questions. However, the danger is it will also lead some into a false sense of security.
Although not identifying a widespread problem, the fact that 75 of the cases investigated in Wrexham did show levels of drugs should still be a major cause for concern. The possibility of such a high number of spiked drinks in just 12 months certainly sets the alarm bells ringing.
Far from exposing the “myth” of the possible use of date rape drugs, surely it confirms there are some people out and about in our towns and cities ready, willing and able to spike the drinks of unsuspecting victims.
The suggestion there isn’t a widespread problem is itself misleading and misguided.
What the survey does confirm is the large number of people who are drinking to excess on a regular basis and are failing to accept responsibility for their own actions.
Binge drinking remains a major issue and we are still a long way short of educating a sizable section of the population about the dangers of consuming too much alcohol.
But we also do have a problem of spiked drinks, which is confirmed by this latest research.
It might not be on the scale of binge drinking, but surely the implications could be just as devastating?