On the night of January 17, 2020, Mia Doshi Prichard’s life changed forever.
She intended to remember it as another night of going out dancing and enjoying with her friends. But the evening ended up being so traumatic that, two years later, she still doesn’t go out at night.
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Mia was drugged in her drink, a practice that according to a recent report by the Home Affairs Committee – a group of parliamentarians in the United Kingdom – can have long-term consequences, with “lasting repercussions on the lives of the victims”.
“In the months that followed, I had panic attacks“said the 21-year-old in tears on the radio program Newsbeat from the BBC.
“I’m always so paranoid and in the back of my head I think something bad is going to happen.”
The illicit alteration of beverages is such a widespread phenomenon that in English it has its own term: drinkspicking.
It occurs all over the world, mainly in public places and at parties, and especially to the detriment of young women, often to commit robbery or sexual abuse.
Already in 2010 the UN warned about the alarming increase in calls “date rape drugs” and the appearance of new substances.
According to official data from the Office for National Statistics, in England and Wales there were 120 deaths linked to GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) between 2014 and 2018.
In Latin America, this substance has become in recent years one of the new silent drugs that is replacing burundanga.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that international controls on the GHB trade are minimal.
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But what happens to the victims of this type of situation?
The BBC spoke to three young people about their experiences and the trauma of being drugged against their will.
“I had panic attacks”
Mia is from Leicester but studies in York in the North East of England.
He remembers that the night the accident happened he drank the same amount as his friends, but she was the only one who felt “disoriented”.
“I put down the glass and turned around for a minute to dance with some friends.”
That’s when she believes the toxic substance was put into her drink.
can only remember fragments of that nightthings like “collapsing outside the bathroom” and “grabbing a railing” to get up, nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
Mia believes that being drugged in such a way “can psychologically alter people for a long time.”
Since that night, he has tried going out with friends again, but it has been too difficult.
“For a while I got into that state [de tener ataques de pánico] And I’d get even angrier because I was ruining my friends’ experience by being so nervous.”
“I will never accept a drink from a stranger again”
Saskia Boissevain she was left “very upset” and feeling “vulnerable for quite some time”. She is now much more wary of strangers.
She describes having “totally and utterly lost her memory” after apparently being offered a spiked drink in September 2021.
The 30-year-old Londoner was out with a friend and, after two men offer them a drinkthey were “totally out of control”.
“The next morning, I woke up and I was lying on the bathroom floor, alone in my apartment, and I had absolutely no memory of anything other than walking to the bar. And having that drink.”
Saskia now pays more attention to the people around her and where her drinks are.
“It’s not necessarily fear, but I’m certainly more cautious and I would never accept a drink from someone I don’t know again.“.
It also limits how much you drink depending on “where and who I’m with.”
“I feel more comfortable when I go out with my fiancé, which feels ugly to say. But I definitely wouldn’t drink too much if I went out alone with one or two other friends.”
“I lost confidence and faith”
Niamh Donnelly He was at a house with some friends a month ago, getting ready to go out for the night, when he says he was drugged.
“I finished unconscious outside my house. People on the street had to help me into my house, it’s hard to process.”
She was so scared by what had happened that she left college in Nottingham and returned home to Birmingham, where she has stayed ever since.
Niamh, 21, says she feels “very weird” when she thinks about going out at night and has lost “trust and faith” in those she thought would keep her safe.
“As a woman, it’s very important that you and your friends go out and feel safe, and that the people around you make sure you are.
“Going out is dangerous. This really affected me a lot.
“It made me extremely cautious and I wouldn’t share my drinks with anyone.
“If I go out again, I’m going to be watching myself and the people around me very closely, more than I would have done before.”
* With reporting by Manish Pandey of the BBC’s Newsbeat program.