Nausea, drowsiness and eventual memory loss: The symptoms after a needle spiking attack are similar to those of alcohol intoxication – one reason why the increasing cases across Europe are difficult to elucidate. In France alone, more than 300 incidents have been reported in which people at parties or concerts have been attacked with needles.

The symptoms after the attacks are comparable to the so-called “drink spiking”, better known under the generic term knockout drops. Those affected suddenly feel uncomfortable, often lose their orientation or even unconsciousness. Later they notice – often not until the next morning – a needle puncture in their arm. Whether and which drugs are injected usually remains unclear because the substances are then no longer detectable in the blood.

The attacks mostly occur in clubs, bars or at concerts. The case of the Australian singer Alison Lewis, who reported on a “needle spiking” attack in Berghain, recently became known in Germany. Then another case from the techno club became public.

In Belgium, two women reported assaults at the Pride parade in central Brussels. The police initiated investigations, but there were no arrests.

Also in France, where apparently 302 victims had reported to the police because of “needle spiking” since March, there were only two arrests. After an attack in Toulon in southern France, two women identified the alleged perpetrator. The incidents in France occur here mainly at concerts and music festivals.

The first cases were reported from the UK late last year. After the return to classroom teaching at universities, more than 1,000 cases became known among British students. A case from the Netherlands also became public at this time.

The problem with the investigations is that the injected substances can only be detected in the blood for about four hours. Due to the severe drowsiness and the similarities to alcohol intoxication, many sufferers often only notice what has happened to them the next morning. Prosecution is no longer possible without a blood or urine sample.

The administered substances could not be analyzed so far, but investigators assume Rophynol and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), which are also used in knockout drops.

The authorities therefore advise that if you feel unwell, you should immediately contact the club staff or the appropriate helpers on site. Here, too, experts are now urging better awareness of the new type of crime. Compared to knockout drops, of which several hundred cases are reported in Germany every year according to crime statistics, the problem remains comparatively small.