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Needle Spiking: an Epidemic for Cork?

By Ciara Browne – Deputy News Editor

There have been several reports in recent weeks of people being injected with drugs without their knowledge in bars and nightclubs across Ireland and the UK. The attacks have primarily targeted young women, typically in their early twenties, and the most common areas are pubs and clubs that college students are attending. 

The consequences of the spikings are that victims become disorientated whilst out socialising with their friends and discover physical bruising, possibly caused by a needle prick, the following morning. An Garda Síochána is advising victims of similar incidents or any form of ‘drug spiking’ to report the incident to local Garda. This issue comes after the recent lifting of most Covid-19 restrictions on late bars and clubs. The Irish Second-level Students’ Union (ISSU) is stressing the importance of students being equipped with the knowledge to better help themselves and look out for their friends too. UCC Bystander organised an event in response to the spiking issue which took place on November 4th at the Quad. UCC Bystander wants students to #TakeBackTheSpike and educate themselves on what is spiking, important things to know, and most importantly what is happening NOW to students. 

Nightlife opening back up is an exciting time for students, however, with the recent incidents, it is more important than ever that students have awareness of what is happening around them. There are signs that can be detected if someone has been spiked and recognition of these signs can help prevent hospitalisation. These signs may include dizziness, slurring of words, memory loss or a loss of consciousness, nausea, and hallucinations.

As of October 23rd, the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) had collected 198 reports of drink spiking, in addition to the 56 reports of incidents involving a needle. It has been reported that spiking by injection carries extra risks as unclean or shared needles pose threats of HIV/AIDS and other dangerous diseases. 

Locally, the drug issue gets more serious as there are cannabis jellies circulating the Cork area. Cork has been appointed a new chief to tackle “the scourge” of drugs in the City. Chief Superintendent Tom Myers is replacing Barry McPolin in the role, following McPolin’s retirement from the force in recent weeks after 38 years of service. Chief Superintendent Myers told the Evening Echo that “the scourge of drugs present in every community and Cork City is no different.” Myers was head of the drug squad in Cork and will be working to ensure An Garda Síochána in Cork City are targeting those involved at local and national levels in the sale and supply of drugs. There is significant concern regarding the amount of cannabis jellies circulating the City and people are being urged to reject any offerings of jellies. 

In addition to new spiking issues, old fashioned spiking by the use of powders, dissolving tablets, and liquids in drinks continues to be an ongoing issue. The Student’s Union President of Munster Technological University in Kerry, Chris Clifford, has said that they are aware of at least six students who had their drink spiked during their freshers’ week. 

Gardaí are urging students to contact the HSE or their local doctor if they have been injected, spiked, or consumed cannabis jellies. Students are also being advised to keep any of the spiked drinks that they may have left, if they have been spiked. It can be used as evidence and the Gardaí suggest that victims give the drink to a worker/manager until a member of an Garda Síochána reaches the location of the incident. 

Blood or urine samples will be needed following a drink spiking, drug consumption or injection spiking. Most drugs leave the body 12 to 72 hours after being consumed, making it important to make sure the blood or urine sample is tested as soon as possible. Cork City Gardaí are urging students to report any incidents and the Gardaí are looking into ways in which they can make the food and drink sector safer by implementing more effective facilities and security to protect students from these spiking attacks. 

Irish Times (picture source)