This month, millions of people are expressing affection to their loved ones. On 14 February, the romantic mood is expected to rise as people remember Valentine’s Day. However, there have been countless sad stories of how people have lost their lives, robbed or raped after falling prey to criminals who spike drinks on their unsuspecting targets with foreign substances or force their targets to take illicit drugs.
As the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN), we have come up with a few steps on how you can avoid having your drinks spiked during any outing this month or in future.
Stay with your drink every time. If you are offered a drink by somebody you have just met or barely know, stay at the bar as the drink is ordered and served. You will be able to see the bartender make it and hand it across to you. You can also request that drinks be brought to the table by waiters.
Prefer unopened bottled drinks or cans over glass drinks. If you are not with people you can trust, have your drink from a bottle and watch the top being removed by the bartender.
If you get a glass drink, hold it in such a way that your hand covers the top of the glass. Holding it with your palm over the top instead of against the side of the drink will make it harder for anyone to slip anything in without you noticing.
Always keep an eye on your drink. Do not leave your drink unattended for any time. Give it to a friend to guard or finish it off before racing off to the dance floor or visit the bathroom. If you have to leave it and you return and uncertain as to its safety, leave it and get a new one.
Accept drinks only from people you trust. If you cannot keep an eye on the serving of your drink, or you have any misgivings about the person offering you a drink, it is best to politely decline. If you are having drinks with friends, ask them to keep an eye on you if you do go off with anyone unknown during the night.
Avoid sharing other people’s drinks. This could be a ruse to lull you into a false sense of security. Never grab a drink or steal one.
Look for signs of tampering on your drink. Things such as your drink being moved from where you left it, the straw having been taken out or one put in, less or more liquid than you remember, odd bubbling or fizzing, a different color or odor, floaters of any kind, empty medicinal packets next to the glass or on the floor.
Cease drinking anything that tastes funny. When you drink something that tastes off or unusual, stop right there and have no more. Immediately presume that the situation has become unsafe and either leave as soon as possible, or grab a friend to stay with or, better yet, leave together.