A survey of college students finds almost 8 percent say they have had drugs put into their drinks, known as “drink spiking.”
About 80 percent of victims of drink spiking were female. Women were more likely than men to say sexual assault is a motive for drink spiking, HealthDay reports. Men were more likely to say the reason behind drink spiking was “to have fun.” Other motives students cited were to calm someone down or to make them go to sleep.
The survey of more than 6,000 students at three universities found that 1.4 percent said either they had drugged someone, or they knew someone who had drugged another person.
“These data indicate that drugging is more than simply an urban legend,” study leader Suzanne Swan of the University of South Carolina said in a news release.
The study appears in the journal Psychology of Violence.
“Even if a person is drugging someone else simply ‘for fun’ with no intent of taking advantage of the drugged person, the drugger is still putting a drug in someone else’s body without their consent — and this is coercive and controlling behavior,” Swan said.
The researchers noted questions about drink spiking remain. “We have no way of knowing if the drugging victims were actually drugged or not, and many of the victims were not certain either,” they wrote. “It is possible that some respondents drank too much, or drank a more potent kind of alcohol than they were accustomed to.”
They noted that commonly used over-the-counter and prescription drugs can interact with alcohol. They added that victims often don’t remember what happened when they were drugged.
Swan said the study highlights the need for educating students about the potential risks of drink spiking. “Because many of those who drug others believe that the behavior is fun and minimize the risks, interventions could provide information about the dangers of overdosing,” she said.