Addenbrooke's in all its majesty.Source: Wikicommons

“What are you here for?”, a nurse in Adenbrooke’s A&E asked me as she fastened a blood pressure monitor around my arm. It’s not the sort of question that’s particularly nice to answer, especially in a waiting room full of people with bleeding skulls and broken ankles. “I think I was spiked last night.” I managed to reply. I’d been saying that sentence all day, since I woke up and had to explain to my parents why I had ended up in their home, nearly 40 miles away from the Cambridge club I’d left. “A needle?” she asked with an unnerving nonchalance. I nodded and, as a thermometer entered my ear, she said: “We’ve been getting a fucking lot of you recently. Horrible stuff, but a lot of you.”

My first ever May Week has been tarnished by small puncture wounds on my arm, a complete lack of memory, seven hours in A&E, and a £60 cab ride back to my parents’ house. Like many of us, I take the necessary precautions to not get spiked. I exclusively drink shots in clubs and, when I have had enough Jägerbombs, my hand will sit over my double vodka lemonade (basic, I know) with the straw poking through my fingers. They’re precautions many people take part in but it seems, rather miserably, that it is not enough. If I am to be properly protected, it seems that now I should don a suit of armour to protect myself against the evil of needle spiking.

“Spiking leaves you feeling so isolated and A&E can really reinforce that.”

Needle spiking is the sort of terrible crime you see on TV, that you read in articles (meta, eh?), which you never think will happen to you. It’s this out-there quality that puts the big and scary NEEDLE SPIKE as something I (and I’m sure many many others) have no idea what to do about. A needle spike does not carry the same problems as your run-of-the-mill pill in drink job. No, you’re passing bodily fluids around, often between victims. With that comes, terrifyingly, a myriad of diseases that could have been jabbed into me. HIV, hep B, and all manner of other horrible bugs could have been on the needle stuck in my arm so, unfortunately, I had to head to Addenbrooke’s A&E.

I gave 111 a ring soon after making it back to Cambridge. After pressing a lot of buttons I was connected to someone who asked me too many questions, told me not to suck my needle marks, then told me to get myself to A&E. A big tip for those arriving at Addenbrooke’s A&E department is: do not be deterred by how horrible it all seems. The chairs hurt, the news is the same thing over and over for 7 hours, and that damn baby won’t stop crying but all of that is far better than the potential alternative.

“There’s no reason to be ashamed, though, you were attacked and you did nothing wrong”

For those of you unlucky enough to have visited Addenbrooke’s A&E department you’ll, no doubt, be aware of just how awful it is. I brought a friend who, despite my half-hearted insistence I’d be fine alone, held my hand as I was quizzed by doctors, was taken off for blood tests and physicals, and as I tried to recount what had happened the night before. Spiking leaves you feeling so isolated and A&E can really reinforce that. I had no clue what the medical jargon thrown about meant nor what doctor was going to come out next. After being spiked you need familiarity. Take a friend, take some mindless TV and Youtube (I’d recommend ‘Worst Freestyles’ and The Simpsons), and take the free sandwiches – they’re a tad rank, but in a familiar school dinner way.


Mountain View

Bottle stoppers and alcohol awareness: a Cambridge college’s response to spiking

After seven gruelling hours I was given some PEP and a hepatitis B jab. PEP is what you’re given immediately after exposure to HIV, the disease I was most terrified about having. It is an awful feeling to spend seven hours with your arse on the most uncomfortable seat known to man and still, after that ordeal, not know if you have HIV. It is highly unlikely that I contracted the disease but walking out of Addenbrooke’s I clutched my pill bottles. I have iCaSH appointments coming out of my ears and a string of vaccinations ahead of me, but the three large pastel pills I have to take every day for the next month have become my peace of mind.

My final message to the unlucky people waking up with no memory and the terror of holes in their skin is: keep talking. It is easy and far too comfortable to pull your bed sheets over your head and cringe about how you acted when you were drugged. There’s no reason to be ashamed, though, you were attacked and you did nothing wrong. Be kind to yourself, sit on the uncomfortable chairs, cry, hug, take your pills, talk to your friends. You’ll get through it.