Trigger warning: This article references drugging and sexual assault.
It was only a short trip to the bathroom, but what happened in those minutes have changed Sarah's life forever.
"I could have been raped, attacked, assaulted, anything. I actually hate to think about it."
The Wellington woman had been out dancing with friends. She left her drink on the table in the smoking area to go to the bathroom.
When she emerged her friends had moved but she bumped into a male acquaintance and spoke to him for a few minutes.
Back at the table, her drink was still there and because she'd just bought it, she picked it up and joined her friends where they had relocated.
About fifteen minutes later the then 19-year-old was "out of control" and "intensely" drunk.
"I was really dizzy then I started to hallucinate, started seeing footballs and things like that."
Sarah - not her real name - is one of several women spoken to by the Herald on Sunday who believe they have had their drink spiked. But any hard data on a rise in it happening is hard to measure - experts say the substances used for spiking drinks can leave the body in a few hours so testing would need to be done the same night.
So many women don't have hard evidence to take to police and don't report the crime for fear of not being believed.
Sarah believes she's one of the lucky ones, her friends were close by and took her home, but she spent the next day vomiting and eventually went to hospital.
"I'm usually a little bit hungover when I go out but this was like another level of like vomiting for hours."
She was tested to find out if anything was in her system and says Ketamine showed up. The medication is mainly used for starting and maintaining anaesthesia so induces a trance-like state. It is often used to tranquilise horses.
Now, the young woman doesn't go out clubbing "at all", has sworn off drinking and finds it hard to trust people in town.
"It's just not really worth the risk for me anymore, it's not fun enough."
The possibility that someone was "preying on her" is etched into her mind – a reminder of just how wrong a night out can go.
The capital's nightlife has been in the spotlight recently, with 20 women going to police with allegations of sexual offending and assault against some in the Wellington music scene, as well as a series of violent brawls and major drug busts.
Wellington City Councillor Tamatha Paul, who leads the city safety and youth portfolio, says drink spiking is a big issue in the capital.
"I know heaps of young people, young women especially, who've had experiences of having their drinks spiked."
She says it can be hard for people to know until after the fact, and says like some lower level sexual offending people can think it's not serious enough to go to police.
Paul believes drink spiking is part of a wider problem in the city's nightlife.
"There's clearly a deep-rooted rape culture here in Wellington, and in New Zealand as well, and that's really come to light over the last few months."
She says they've known it's been a problem for a long time, and while there are some initiatives like Don't Guess the Yes, the Wellington City Council needs to do more about this issue.
That initiative is a collaboration between multiple organisations including police and Hospitality New Zealand which shares messages about informed consent, impacts of excessive alcohol consumption and how to keep other safe.
In September, police opened an investigation after a different woman reported that she had had her drink spiked by a man.
Earlier this month Wellington police made a record seizure of 400 litres of the drug GBL (a more potent version of GHB), the biggest in New Zealand's history.
Also this month, Wellington Hospital's Emergency Department said they had noticed an increase in people overdosing from the drug, which is also known as Rinse or Liquid G - a depressant that has relaxing, euphoric effects.
Emergency medicine specialist and clinical toxicologist Paul Quigley told the Herald they're dealing with two to three users a weekend and says the patients are often in a life threatening state.
When asked about the September incident, police encouraged people to come forward as soon as possible if they believe their drink has been tampered with.
For Sarah, drink spiking is "100 percent" a problem in the capital, but says she doesn't remember thinking about reporting it to police.
"I guess I was just keen to move on with it and I didn't want that night to become a big thing for me. I just felt like trash and just wanted to go home and sleep."
Another woman, who also wants to remain anonymous, says she collapsed "like jelly" and was carried to the bathroom after getting spiked with GHB last year.
The Wellington resident says she was bedridden for five days, sweating, vomiting and unable eat.
"Blood vessels popped in my eyes from vomiting and I didn't go to town for maybe seven months."
She doesn't remember much from the night, but says GHB was found in her system when she was tested later.
Now the woman, who was 21 at the time, usually only goes to town for an hour and doesn't let people buy her drinks.
The woman said she was tested by a doctor, but says she didn't report it to police.
M Group bars director Jordan Mills says drug use is more prevalent than it was 10 years ago and is definitely a problem.
"We definitely find little bags hanging around, whether it's by the front door when they walk out they just throw it or in the bathrooms."
He says there are initiatives in place like Don't Guess the Yes, to help upskill staff on ways to handle people attempting to spike drinks or drink spiking.
"It's obviously a very scary thought for us trying to be responsible hosts."
There haven't been any recent reports of this type at his venues says Mills, but he told the Herald on Sunday it's definitely happened before.
Wellington hospitality owner Matt McLaughlin, a Don't Guess the Yes facilitator, says if people believe they've been spiked they should report it to police, because then venues can search through security footage.
"We can't just rely on hearsay, we have to rely on the proper channels."
A different woman, who the Herald on Sunday has agreed not to name, also claims that she's had her drink spiked in the capital.
Earlier this year she was out drinking with friends when she says a man who was standing on a bar's balcony near her drink kept making "uncomfortable" eye contact with her.
"He would keep looking back at me and when we were all on the dance floor, after I'd finished my drink, he approached me and asked me something really random."
The woman, who works as a health professional, says she went home and slept shortly after finishing her drink.
"When I woke up I just felt, like not the kind of hungover sickness, just insane shaking and vertigo, like dry retching, insane confusion."
The health worker says the "s*** part" is that most of her friends, except one who urged her to get a test, didn't take the situation too seriously.
"I just felt really down in the dumps and then I just started to blame myself, like maybe I shouldn't leave my drink lying around."
She didn't get a test and chose not to report the incident.
"I didn't report it because, one, I was in denial that something like that could happen to me, two the lack of support from my friends made me think that it was more of an issue to do with me and I should have been more careful."
The woman says she also didn't know what number to contact, so decided it was too much admin.
"I literally thought that stuff would never happen in Wellington. Let alone to me."
In a statement, police told the Herald on Sunday there's been no noticeable increase in reports of drink spiking.
"Recent publicised seizures of GBL are likely to have an impact in taking such illicit substances out of circulation."
Although the experience hasn't turned the woman off drinking, it has made her anxious to be alone if she's out drinking and her friends leave.
New Zealand Drug Foundation deputy executive director Ben Birks Ang says the substances used for spiking drinks can leave the body in a few hours - but that won't stop people from feeling "yuck" after that.
"If you are wanting to get tested, the sooner the better, but in lots of cases that may not be possible."
He says people need to remember that regardless of whether they get tested or not they're not responsible.
"It is never okay to purposefully intoxicate someone for your own sexual gain. It is also never okay to have sex with someone who is unable to consent."
Although she'll never forget the experience, Sarah's grateful to her friends who were with her that night and took her home.
"The, what could have been, that was the most scary thing."
While Capital and Coast DHB said the emergency department had not seeing anything "of note" in regard to drink spiking, it sent through its treatment plan for victims.
It says that while they can provide medical care and advice "very little" can be done medically for a patient who presents clinically well.
"They should request police forensic testing if they wish, though it is very rare to detect any positive samples after 12 hours or in asymptomatic patients."
What to do if you think you've been spiked
• Get medical attention and tested as soon as possible
• Anyone who believes they may have had their drink spiked should contact police
• If you start to feel dizzy or unwell while drinking tell bar staff, security or someone you trust straight away.
• Always let someone know where you are going, and if you need help urgently call 111.
• If anyone has any information to report about concerning or suspicious behaviour they can call Police on 105 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.