Nfld. & Labrador

Police warning of spiked drinks means problem could be worse than normal: crisis centre director

The director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis Prevention Centre says a recent police warning about poisoned drinks may represent a spike in date-rape attempts.

Poisoned drinks always an issue, says Sandra McKellar, so the need for a warning is a worrisome sign

Police recently warned the public after receiving complaints about suspected drug poisoning in St. John's establishments. (Adrian Di Virgilio/CBC News)

The director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis Prevention Centre says a recent police warning about poisoned drinks may represent a spike in date-rape attempts.

On Friday, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary warned partygoers in downtown St. John's about a spate of possible drug poisonings. Sandra McKellar of the NL Sexualt Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre said the fact police felt it necessary to issue a public warning is worrisome.

"There always is an issue," McKellar said. "So when there's a public warning … it could be worse than usual."

The RNC said the reports came from multiple locations in the downtown area. The force says it chose to issue a public warning due to the quick succession in which the complaints were received.

"In all cases, the individuals were in public socializing when they believed drugs were slipped into their drinks or otherwise administered," the RNC said in its statement.

"There have been no reports of sexual assaults related to these instances at this time."

McKellar said a number of substances, including alcohol, could be used to impair a target — "anything that impacts on a person's capacity to give informed consent, anything that alters your perceptions or ability to make decisions."

Warning signs of a drug poisoning include feeling light-headed or dizzy, having visual or motor impairments, and feeling drowsy and weak.

If an assault occurs, she said, a survivor may recall feeling paralyzed, powerless or disassociated from their body. They may have little to no recollection of the assault, but could feel soreness or having bleeding.

McKellar said anyone who suspects they've been assaulted can see a doctor, call police or call the crisis line.

The RNC says it's still investigating the incidents and are asking the public to contact police if they feel more intoxicated than expected while out socializing.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Garrett Barry

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