Drink Spiking: Keep Your Kids Safe From Tampered Drinks

A row of red plastic cups at a college party.
Red plastic cups at a party.

As teens grow into adults, it’s a wonderful time for them to discover who they are. Some teens graduate from high school and head off to a big college campus. Others choose to stay closer to home and continue their education at a local community college or jump directly into the workforce. No matter what path they choose, they’re building life skills that will make them successful in the future.

Developing social skills and networking are two of the most valuable parts of moving into adulthood. Young adults are meeting new people and developing new friendships. This is also a time when parents are no longer kept in the loop about who their kids are hanging out with and what they’re doing.

Unfortunately, there are those who prey on unsuspecting teens. Drink spiking is not something that just happens on TV. And it happens more than teens and parents think. It’s entirely reasonable for parents to worry about their children. But how can parents keep their kids safe from drink spiking?

How to Protect Your Child From Drink Tampering

On the one hand, it’s important that parents respect the newfound independence of their children. On the other, it’s vital that parents educate young adults to better protect themselves and stay safe. Here are a few things parents and teens can do to protect themselves and their friends from spiked drinks.

Know How to Spot the Warning Signs of Drink Tampering

The first thing to keeping your children safe from drugged drinks is to help them know what to look for. When a teen knows how to identify drink spiking, they’re that much more prepared to safeguard themselves and their friends.

If you suddenly notice that your drink looks cloudy, seems like it has excessive bubble, or has changed in color, there’s a chance it may have been tampered with. Maybe you or your friend didn’t notice these warning signs until you already drank the beverage.

In that case, be on the lookout for a sudden loss of balance, drowsiness, or vision problems. If you notice any of these signs, tell someone and get your friend to a medical professional immediately.

Never Leave a Drink Unattended

Once you put your drink down, it’s no longer your drink. This is true whether you’re at a party, a tailgate, a restaurant, or a nightclub. Any time you leave a drink unattended is an opportunity for someone to slip something into your drink. It only takes a second for someone to spike your drink. The consequences could last a lifetime.

Even if you ask a friend to watch your drink, you can never be too careful. The kinds of people that spike drinks are sneaky. They could drop something in a drink while passing by or when your friends aren’t paying attention. Bring your drink with you or finish it before you leave.

Don’t Accept Beverages From Other People

The only way to be truly safe with your drink is to bring your own. Bring individually packaged sodas that are in unopened cans or bottles. This prevents the possibility of someone tampering with your beverage before you get to it.

If someone offers you a beverage, it’s best not to accept it. There’s no need to be rude. A simple, “Thanks, but no thanks” will suffice. You can never be too careful, and it’s always best not to accept any kind of food or drink from strangers.

Don’t Take Drinks Out of Punch Bowls

“Oh no! Someone spiked the punch!” It has become such a stereotype that people don’t take it seriously anymore. But that doesn’t make it any less true! Punches and other community drinks are seeing a resurgence in popularity. This also makes them a prime opportunity for drink spiking. With community drinks comes less certainty of what you’re actually drinking.

When dealing with a community beverage, it’s impossible to keep an eye on the bowl the entire time. From proms to club functions and parties, there’s no telling what may be in it. Someone could have spiked it with a high-alcohol-content beverage. This could cause a teen to black out or consume more alcohol than they intend.

Even worse, community punches are easy targets for drink tampering. One big bowl makes it easy for someone to adulterate it with illegal drugs or intoxicants that could affect everyone at a party. Tell your child to pass on the punch at their next party and bring their own sealed sodas instead.

Test Your Drinks With This New Device

The best way to avoid having your drink spiked is to not drink. However, that might not always be realistic or might not be an option. A teen may be enjoying a soft drink or water, and someone could still spike their beverage.

Thankfully, a team of innovative students at North Carolina State University has invented a solution to help keep people safe from drink tampering. The four students developed a simple test people can use to detect if a drink has been spiked. The discreet test kits are small enough to be carried in a wallet or purse, and only need a few drops of a beverage to work.

Start the Conversation About Drink Spiking

One of the best, and still most effective, ways to protect your child from drink tampering is to talk to them about it. Sitting down and having an honest, open conversation about underage drinking and its dangers can go a long way to helping them make smart decisions.

Take the time to educate your children about the dangers of drink spiking. When you do, you can sleep a bit more soundly knowing they’re informed on how to stay safe. Talk it out with your teen today and take the pledge to prevent underage drinking together.