An Australian club-goer shared their story in a stark warning to youngsters, after they were allegedly hit with a needle while partying with friends.
What should have been a fun night supporting a friend’s first DJ in Melbourne last month took a sinister turn when Charn and his friend were pricked with a needle.
It’s a well-documented scary act across the UK, with shocking new figures revealing that the number of people who have fallen victim to needle spikes has tripled.
But troubling stories have recently emerged across Australia, with victims of actions believed to be escalating.
Drama on the dance floor
Sharon said the dreaded needle strike occurred in a Melbourne nightclub between 7:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on April 24, while enjoying a night out with friends.
The 21-year-old took to social media to share the harsh warning, telling others to look for their friends during the night.
They said “Melbourne folk, some (one) go around and hit you with needles”.
“You were literally sober, dude. You must have your wits about you.”
Sharon said it’s not the first time something like this has happened.
“I was pleased before,” they said, recalling a time when the rape drug GHB was dosed while drinking.
GHB is sometimes used to augment drinks and has been involved in cases of sexual abuse due to its ability to cause drowsiness, sleep and short-term memory loss.
But this time things looked different, Sharon said.
They said “It was nothing of the sort”.
“I didn’t feel any numbness or tingling, it could happen that easily. I didn’t realize until three days later.”
Charn guessed that they had been taken with a stimulant rather than a rape drug due to the lack of effect.
They said, “I’ve been drinking Red Bulls all night, so I thought I was excited.”
“The only reason I felt different was a little bit of energy, I couldn’t sleep when I got home, I wasn’t hungry for a day or so, and my arm kept numb/achy intermittently.”
Sharon said another friend also got some kind of beating that night and warned club-goers to be safe.
They said they have reported the incident to the local police and the place and are waiting for the results of the blood test.
reeling without remembering
A night out with a friend ended in terror for Queensland resident Louise Tourenfeldt, when she woke up freezing and vomiting in an ambulance with no recollection of what had happened.
The Sunshine Coast resident was in the spotlight at the popular Ocean Street nightclub bar in Maroochydore’s safe nightclub in late March when things went south.
Torenfeldt said she only drank about four cups when she began to feel increasingly unwell.
“I told Abby I was going to the bathroom and that’s the last thing I remember,” she told 7NEWS.com.au.
The next thing I knew, she was shivering in the back of an ambulance, falling into unconsciousness.
Torneveldt said security smashed the bathroom door to find her and carried her outside, with her friend Abby rushing to her side for help and calling triple-0.
“In the ambulance, my temperature went down, I was shivering, and vomiting nonstop, and that’s when I woke up because I was so cold and disoriented,” she said.
Her symptoms persisted throughout the night and the next day.
“I couldn’t hold anything down, I was just vomiting,” she said, adding that she was exhausted and feeling weak for days to come.
Thornfeldt has been left feeling uneasy about her next city trip, but says she’s only counting her blessings because nothing more sinister happened that night.
She said, “I didn’t like the thoughts going through my mind about what might happen… I’m just grateful that Abby was there.”
“I’m a little worried about going out again.
“In a few weeks I’ll have a night out planned and I’ll be more vigilant about my drink and I’ll keep a better eye on it.
“You just want to go out and have a good time but you can’t really do that.”
Torenfeldt said she informed the police and the location.
How often does that happen?
Experts warn that the true prevalence of binge drinking and needle hypertrophy remains unknown due to insufficient data collection.
Growing concern about the rise in alcohol sparked a review by the UK’s Home Affairs Committee, with findings late last month revealing that the drink’s rise was “significantly underreported”.
And the needle spike is on the rise, too, with police forces across the UK recording at least 2,436 cases between 2017 and 2021 – 839 of which came in the last year alone, woman mentioned.
The 2021 figure more than tripled reports from 234 needles in the previous year.
The Parliamentary Review said: “Stalking is a heinous crime that often has a detrimental effect on the physical or mental health of its victims and undermines their confidence.”
“Improvements are urgently needed in reporting, investigating and prosecuting escalation incidents, to improve support for victims and act as a deterrent.”
Nicole Lee of the National Institute for Drug Research explained that Australia lacks up-to-date data on escalation crime, adding that this is because it is often not reported.
“We don’t have a good handle on how often it happens or who it happens to,” she told 7NEWS.com.au.
One study, published in 2004, estimated that there are approximately 3,000 to 4,000 suspected high alcohol incidents in a single year in Australia, and less than 15 per cent are believed to be reported to the police.
Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in alcoholic beverages, said Lee, director of 360Edge, a leading drug and alcohol consultancy.
“It means that sometimes people don’t realize it’s happened to them because they just feel drunk more than they thought they would,” she said.
“We think most binge drinking is done as a joke, and people don’t even bother to report it because their colleagues put in extra alcohol as a bit of a joke, so they may not feel like there is anything to report.
“It’s a dangerous thing to do, because people can’t control how much they drink or the consequences of excessive drunkenness that might come into play.”
He told me that if there were outrageous reasons for someone’s drinking to go up, they might not be reported for the same reason that sexual assault went unreported.
Symptoms of a sudden rise
He told me to be careful if you feel more drunk than you expected.
“If you feel unusually dizzy, faint, sick or sleepy, this could be an indication that a drug other than alcohol may have been used to increase your drink,” she said.
Symptoms of high blood pressure depend on the type and amount of medication used, the size and weight of the victim, and the amount of alcohol they consumed, but can generally include:
- Low inhibitions
- loss of balance
- feeling sleepy
- visual problems
What can he do?
Lee said that when it comes to preventing a surge, the onus is on venues to provide safe spaces for people to gather.
“That’s why we have Responsible Service laws for alcohol…places can do things like remove unattended glasses and monitor suspicious behavior.”
Lee told me places should be aware of people asking to add more alcohol to someone else’s drink and “red flag” drinking requests like “repeated shots over a short period of time or adding more tasteless alcoholic drinks like vodka to beer or wine.” “.
Steps Lee advises that for your own safety, you can:
- Hold on to your drink
- Don’t share drinks
- Buy or pour your own drinks
- Know what’s in your cup
- Throw out the drink if you think it tastes weird
What are the consequences?
Drinking alcoholic beverages or other drugs is a criminal offense in all states and territories.
Punishments range from fines to 25 years in prison.
“There are laws in every state and territory that specifically relate to overeating and drinking,” Lee said.
In Queensland, the use of illegal drinks is carried a maximum of five years behind bars and two years in Victoria.
In other jurisdictions, such as Tasmania, drinking alcoholic beverages to a person falls under broader offenses such as “giving any poison or anything harmful with intent to injure or annoy.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by high alcohol, call the police at 131444.
In an emergency, dial 0.