One night in late February, my friends and I decided to go on a last-minute night out. We got ready, had pre-drinks, and hobbled out of the door down the street towards town. Nothing was out of the norm.

We arrived in a notoriously grimy Dublin club that was lax and loose in its ID-ing and bag checking; we found this funny at the time, not ever thinking about the risks that could come from that, and thought we knew what to expect downstairs. 

As the night went on, we danced and my friends continued to drink more. I wasn’t really in the mood for more. I still wanted to enjoy the night. I can remember at one point, the crowd was moving and someone bumped into me. I felt a cold rash on my arm almost immediately and started to feel really weird. I felt out of it.

Needle spiking has become the new threat for partygoers, especially those who are female, across the country. Since clubs reopened post-Covid, the number of complaints of needle spiking incidents has risen dramatically. The news covering this issue has been rampant, especially on Instagram and TikTok. I remember seeing warnings against going out, or pictures of suspicious men seen near a club. 

Being a young woman, or just a woman, takes a lot more thought and preparation than we even realise. We have to factor in many different possibilities and scenarios in every aspect of our daily routines; can I take the last bus home, should I take a taxi instead, is a taxi even safe? This is all heightened when we want to go on a night out like any other lad.

The needle-spiking news made my friends and I take a step back and reconsider going out at all. But, we each love going out and consider it our break after a long, hard week. That’s why we found ourselves in a basement club, checking my arms and legs for needle marks.

After feeling the cold rash on my arm, I decided to go to sit in the bathroom in a stall; it was quieter, and I was able to safely be alone. My friends came in to check on me, and we made the decision to go home, and that was the end of the night.

The next day I woke up and realised I probably hadn’t been spiked: I had a little bit of a headache, but no other symptoms. But, I did think about the fact that I still felt really dodgy for a large portion of the night, and I was so grateful to have had my friends there to help.

While I myself find the concept of having to change your behaviour and choices because other people refuse to change theirs ridiculous, I don’t think there is any messing around when it comes to being a girl on a night out. There are several things you should always keep in mind

  1. Always make sure you have a friend with you who you trust.
  2. Keep your phone charged and turned on. Buy a power bank, my god, is it worth it.
  3. If your gut is telling you something is off, it probably is. Leave and find a new club – there are so many of them.
  4. If something does happen, find security, or a staff member, immediately. Don’t lock yourself in a stall where no one can find you, or see you.

Spiking happens more than a lot of people would care to admit, and it can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, it seems that not much has been done to investigate spiking claims, as clubs are dark, you aren’t really looking at faces, and alcohol is involved. However, it’s still important to make sure that you feel safe on a night out; whether that is by having a friend nearby, or having a well-loved pub or club you always go to that is familiar to you. Feeling comfortable and safe are the first steps in ensuring a great night out. 

Written by Elisa Eckstein