CHRISTMAS party revellers were today warned to be extra vigilant after a young woman had her drink spiked on a night out.
Dubliner Claire Harding (18) was rushed to hospital after she was found collapsed by friends at a party in a Dublin pub.
She woke the following day in hospital where doctors informed her they had found a strong sedative drug in her system.
The incident comes on the back of warnings by agency Drinkaware who are telling party-goers to be extra vigilant during the Christmas festivities.
Claire believes the spiking of her drink happened at a Tallaght pub when she went outside to join her friend who was smoking.
"Normally we are not allowed to bring drinks outside but my friend happened to have hers with her.
"We got chatting to a man outside. I asked my friend for a sip of her drink before heading back inside. I went straight to the toilet. I don't remember much after that."
Claire remembers locking the toilet door before falling unconscious.
It wasn't until an hour later that her friends discovered her in the toilet having had to force their way in.
"My friends looked for me everywhere. My best friend came into the toilet and she said that when she couldn't get a response from behind the locked toilet she had to pry the door open.
"She found me there, and later on she told me I was having a shaking fit, like I was having a seizure.
"The bouncers brought me outside and instead of getting an ambulance my relatives hailed a taxi and we went straight to Tallaght Hospital."
Claire said her memory of what followed was vague, but she remembered her body shaking, and the confusion that she felt. Claire woke up in Tallaght Hospital on the following Sunday morning hooked up to an IV machine.
She had blood and urine tests. Doctors told Claire that a heavily sedative drug was found in her system.
"I woke up so confused the following morning, and my head was so sore. The nausea and aching in my body lasted the whole day."
Fionnuala Sheehan, of drinkaware.ie said, "I would encourage people to be vigilant on a night out to protect against drink spiking.
"Practical measures like never leaving your drink unattended and not accepting a drink from a stranger, which has not been opened or poured in front of you, will help ensure you have a safe night."
Emily Lindenmuth, of youth website Spunout.ie stressed, "Nobody thinks drinks actually get spiked. There's a real, 'ah sure, what are the chances of that', attitude.
"But it can and does happen. Treat your drinks like an extension of your purse or wallet," she added.