Managing the Impacts of Being Spiked
Spiking is a topic that has populated the media since the re-opening of nightclubs a few months ago, and unfortunately Sheffield hasn’t been immune to the national increase in both drink spiking and spiking via injection.
There’s a lot of information out there about how to manage the immediate effects of spiking however it’s also important to think about the longer term emotional impacts and how to manage these if/when they arise.
In the short-term
In the short-term aftermath of being spiked, it’s completely normal to experience anxiety whilst you try and make sense of what has happened. You may also still be managing the physiological side-effects of being spiked and it’s important that you give yourself and your body time to recover physically.
The most important consideration following a suspected spiking incident is that you feel safe. This might involve staying with friends, going to hospital or engaging with student support services. Some substances commonly used in spiking incidents can lead to feelings of low mood and/or an increase in anxiety for a few days after the incident. Be kind to yourself and do what you need to in order to get through.
Looking towards the longer-term
After the initial shock has passed, you might try and forget that the incident ever happened. It’s normal to want to react in this way when presented with potentially negative and distressing emotions. Many individuals feel uncomfortable talking about their experience at first, or may feel like they need to pretend everything is okay to reassure family and friends.
Not engaging with what has happened is understandable, however quite often these difficult feelings don’t disappear completely. You might find that these feelings arise in busy environments, on your next night out or simply when you’re alone with your thoughts. It’s important to recognise that managing these feelings on your terms is an important part of regaining a sense of autonomy.
Writing Therapy: This involves processing distressing experiences through writing. It’s a good way to start trying to make sense of what has happened and to give yourself space to connect with how you’re feeling. Some students find it useful to bring their writing to sessions with a wellbeing adviser, however it’s entirely your decision who you choose to share this information with.
Connect with Others: It can feel difficult to talk about how we’re feelings with family and friends, and advice from others isn’t always helpful. Remember, they care about you and want you to be okay. Sometimes just being around other people can help you feel safe, and it can be helpful to vocalise what would be useful for you. For example, it might be helpful to have someone to talk to without the expectation of them finding a ‘solution’. Share this with them. Feeling understood and cared for can act as an important buffer against the psychological impacts of distressing experiences.
Self-soothe: Remember the importance of looking after yourself and how powerful self-soothing behaviour can be. If you’re noticing some anxieties around your experience, then engage in activities that you know enable you to relax and feel safe. You’re processing a traumatic experience, and this is going to affect how you feel. Connecting with the present and giving yourself space to step away from painful memories is an important aspect of staying well.
Re-establish Routine: Re-engaging with a routine can help you feel more comfortable and can reduce feelings of anxiety. When we go through a distressing event, it can quite often feel as though that experience has taken over our whole life. Through re-engaging with other aspects of your life, such as university work or societies, you can regain a sense of identity and control.
Ask for support: Having a space to acknowledge and process difficult feelings is an important part of overcoming trauma. For some people, it feels more comfortable to explore these feelings with someone who is removed from their social circle. In a wellbeing session, we can explore these feelings with you and aid you in managing the psychological distress that comes with them. It’s a space that you can use however you’d like, and there’s no pressure to disclose anything if you don’t want to.
It’s important to remember that you’ve been through a really distressing experience, and please treat yourself with the same compassion and kindness as you’d treat a friend in this instance. Some feelings are challenging to process so go at your own pace, and do whatever you need to do to feel okay.
Written by Fiona Murray
Wellbeing Advisor - Faculty of Social Sciences