By Suzy Gilbert
Disclaimer – this column speaks about alcohol and drugs. It does not condone alcoholism. If you or a friend is struggling with substance abuse, please seek out help.
We all enjoy blowing off a little steam, and sometimes the way we do that is by hitting up our favourite happy hour, cocktail bar, club and maybe even getting a little (or a lot) day drunk with our best pal at brunch. And there is nothing wrong with this! Everything in moderation, right?
Everything is fun and we drink without a care in the world, until, well, something does happen to us. I know of many women and even some men who have been roofied, including myself. Sometimes the person gets home safe and okay, but the sad reality is that sometimes they don’t.
I can’t urge this enough: don’t spike people’s drinks.
If you see someone putting something in another person’s drink, please tell someone. Tell security, tell the bartender, tell the person whose drink it is. You could be making a major difference in their life.
Also, sometimes it’s not always drugs that people are spiking your drink with. Sometimes, they try to secretly get the server to bring you a double instead of a single. Sometimes, they order cocktails for you when you don’t want one. Sometimes, people pressure others into taking shots or drinking more, faster.
Let’s stop doing this. It doesn’t matter why the other person doesn’t want to get as drunk as you, or drunk at all. Respect their decision. People need to give their consent to consume alcohol and drugs.
Ask yourself: why is this person trying to get someone so drunk? Well, the answer is probably so they can hit on them later and they hope to have a better chance with them. This is not consent. This is sexual assault.
If you see someone convince a server or bartender to spike someone’s drink with more alcohol, please tell the manager or security and the person whose drink it is.
If someone is drunk or high, they cannot consent to sex. Obviously, it is possible for consensual sex to happen while drinking. But if your partner is so drunk that they cannot walk straight, cannot talk, are passing out, falling over, not acting like themselves, or is saying, “I’m drunk/high,” then they cannot give consent for sex. It is best if you both wait till you sober up.
It all comes down to respect, and we need to respect each other’s wishes and respect each other’s bodies.
Please remember that being drunk is not an excuse to assault someone.
Also, can we please start believing each other all the time about being drugged/having our drinks spiked? It does happen, and it does happen from people we know. We need to believe and support survivors no matter what.
Let’s treat each other better and let’s look out for each other while drinking.
Drinking should be fun and worry-free, and if we all make a commitment to be better, then it truly can be a fun and safe party for everyone!
Suzy Gilbert is finishing her last term at Red River College in the Creative Communications program and is the founder of Together, an awareness campaign promoting consensual sexual experiences through respect, communication and sex positivity. Together strives to support and educate young people about safe and healthy sexual relationships and consent culture. You can find Together on Instagram at @togetherwpg, on Facebook at Together Winnipeg and on its website at togetherwpg.ca.