Drink and Needle Spiking: FAQs about testing after a suspected spiking

Abbi Holloway

Abbi Holloway

on Nov 18, 2022

1. I think I've been spiked. Should I be tested?

If you think you have been spiked, then immediate action, or as soon as you are able, would be to contact the police or a suitable charity.

They will be able to advise standard procedures for the situation, which may include drug and alcohol testing. Testing for spiking can be a lengthy and expensive process which, for some victims, is a very worthwhile step but for others can be detrimental.

If you think you have been spiked whilst out, please take immediate action and find a staff member such as a door supervisor and ask your friends to stay close by.

The next step would be to go to Accident and Emergency in case you need treatment. As soon as you are able, you should report our suspicions to the police.

They will be able to investigate and implement standard procedures for the situation, which may include testing and the support of a suitable charity.

The emotional toll of going through testing after a traumatic event can be substantial, especially as you may not get the results you anticipate.

We would advise anyone seeking a test to consider what outcomes they expect and how they would feel should they not get that outcome.

2. What testing is available if I think I've been spiked? 

There are a number of tests that can be used to ascertain spiking. The best action would be to test a urine or blood sample at the time of, or shortly after, the suspected spiking. 

Both urine and blood have a reasonably narrow window of detection to present drugs, so a fast response is required.

Window of detection refers to the specific time during which a drug can be detected in a sample. A narrow window means a short time frame, usually hours or days.

It goes without saying that a fast response may not be possible as you may not be in the right state to take immediate action.

A hair test is also an option should you wish to be tested in the weeks/months after the event.

3. What are the timescales for hair testing?

Should you wish to be tested after a suspected spiking incident, outside of the window of detection for urine and blood analysis, it is possible to have a hair strand test.

We recommend waiting a few weeks after the suspected incident date to allow the hair to grow sufficiently.

We estimate that hair grows an average of 1cm per month, but there are slower and faster growth rates.

Taking into consideration the different growth rates, the team at Cansford will calculate how many sections need to be tested, to give the best possible chance of capturing the incident (as a section represents a specific time period).

More sections may need to be tested, the further back the suspected spiking incident was.

4. What happens if I was to be tested for spiking?

If we were to test you for spiking, one of our specially trained collectors would take a hair sample from you.

The hair is then cut into small 0.3cm sections to narrow down the period being looked at and to have a better chance of finding any substances.

The sample will be cut into a minimum of five sections, however as detailed above this may vary depending on how long has passed since the suspected incident.

The samples of hair are then tested for our eighteen-drug spiking panel.

5. Could I find out what I was spiked with?

There are a lot of different drugs that could be used to spike someone, and sadly a lot of these are not standard.

We have an eighteen-panel spiking test to try to include a broad range of possible spiking agents but there are still some that may elude the test.

Further tests for other types of drugs can be requested at an extra expense but still may not provide you with a definitive answer.

6. Would I get a definite result?

In most cases we would not expect to receive a positive test result from a single time use of a drug. Therefore, when testing a sample for a spiking incident, measures are taken as detailed above to give the best possible chance of detection.

In addition, we report lower than our usual threshold on spiking cases, thus any drug present, if it is above our limit of detection, will be reported as a detected result.

Therefore, having a positive hair strand test result could give you a definite ‘yes’ to the ingestion of drugs.

And unfortunately, testing is unable to give you a definite ‘no’, but rather show that the drugs we have tested for were not found in that specific sample, which would be reported as a ‘not detected’ result.

Therefore, it does not always follow that not detected does not mean that spiking did not take place.

It is worth noting that chemical treatments that damage the hair such as dye or bleach can reduce the levels of drugs present in hair.

Therefore, any chemical treatments performed in between the event and being tested may affect the results and reduce the likelihood of drugs being detected.

7. What if I don’t get the result I expected?

As mentioned, going through the testing process, and possibly not getting the result you expected, can be a traumatic experience.

We recommend truly considering if having a test is right for you and how you will manage in both outcomes.

Testing positive and having a spiking confirmed can be very difficult and the same can be said if you receive a negative, or ‘not detected’, result.

8. We are here to help

At Cansford labs, our team of advisors is always happy to answer questions and help in any way they can.

Please do get in touch - either by phone on 029 2054 0567, by email at or through our live chat here on our main page:

Video credit: by MART PRODUCTION


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