Thursday, 29 September 2022: With fears of alcohol poisoning and drink and needle spiking increasing during Fresher’s Week, St John Ambulance is encouraging new and returning students to always be alert when out socialising and learn how to spot the warning signs in their friends – so they can enjoy their nights out safely.   

The health response and first aid charity is stepping up its Night Time Economy support in busy university towns, to offer safe treatment spaces, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, where people may need help.     

St John strives to help protect those who may be vulnerable on a night out, especially young women. Operating in seven big university towns and cities St John Ambulance, along with partners, help those who have had too much to drink or may be showing symptoms of spiking, by giving them prompt care or treatment. 

Spikings, and suspected spikings, have become a more common call for St John Ambulance. 

Throughout October, St John people will be out and about in Leicester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Southampton and Soho, London, on key nights including many Friday and Saturdays.

Mike Perkins, the District Community Response Lead in Leicester, said, “It’s so important to be able to spot the signs when something isn’t right and know what to do when things do go wrong. Unfortunately, there is no anti-spiking pill, so it’s a case of being alert and taking steps to keep you and your friends safe, and if you are spiked, calling 999 or seeking medical help.” 

St John are urging new and returning students to be aware of the issue and to ‘look out for each other’ and Mike added: “University is often the first time most people have lived away from home and can often be the first time many have gone out too. We want everyone to have an amazing time but to look out for one another. Friends are really important.”   

St John Ambulance shares its night safety advice to university students, including what to do if you’re spiked:    

  • Keep safe by staying together when you’re out with friends  
  • Pace yourself. Keep an eye on how much you and your friends are drinking.    
  • Many bars and nightclubs (and many universities) offer bottle ‘bungs’ like a cork which can prevent drinks being spiked – ask for one.  
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers, especially after you have had a few drinks  
  • If you think you or a friend has been spiked, make sure to alert bar or event staff and the police, including reporting any suspicious behaviour. Call 999 and get medical help, especially if there is a loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, or abnormal or impaired sight.   
  • If you have used recreational drugs or drunk a lot of alcohol, it’s important to tell your friends what you have taken and when and get medical help from event staff if you need it.   
  • Plan your route home—book taxis or download a rideshare app if trains or buses are not running.   
  • Most of all, look out for each other so you can end the night safely.     

  Click here for more information on alcohol poisoning, drug poisoning.