Sarah says she had a couple of vodka pineapples at a bar near Fenway Park in early July, but instead of a familiar boozy feeling, she became stumbling drunk, nauseous and delirious.

The Boston University Law School student, who had just attended a Red Sox game, went home with a friend in an Uber. She passed out on the couch, occasionally waking up to vomit.

In the morning, Sarah—who requested that GBH withhold her last name to protect her privacy — remembered nothing about the night before. She says this is an extremely rare occurrence for her, especially after consuming a few drinks over a prolonged time period.

Now, Sarah believes she was a victim of drink spiking. She’s not alone. There’s been an alarming increase over the past year in reported cases of spiking in bars and nightclubs around Boston and other cities around the world. Women have told stories of being drugged, raped and waking up in strange apartments not knowing what happened.

A private Facebook site launched in June called “Booze in Boston,” which allows survivors to share drugging concerns, now has 6.6 million members. The Boston Police Department, concerned about numerous reports, issued a warning last week to bar patrons to keep a close watch on their drinks, take care of each other and contact the police if they see someone "in distress."

And owners of a Florida-based company providing anti-drugging paraphernalia – hearing word about problems in the city – are visiting this week to promote their wares.

Melanie Hubbard says she created the Facebook page “Booze in Boston” after one of her TikToks about the uptick in incidents went viral. She calls the interest and discussion a “movement,” with new posts warning of spiking allegations appearing almost every day.

“While I'm not proud of the fact that so many people have had to join, I am proud of the fact that we've established a place where people can come forward and share their story,” said Hubbard, a Virginia native who now lives in Boston.

Hubbard is sure many other people have been afraid to tell their stories because they didn’t get home safe.

“We're not talking about the people who have been raped, who have been mugged, who wake up in a different city, who wake up in a different town, who wake up in an unknown place — the people who don't wake up,’’ she said. “That's what we need to be paying attention to, the much more sinister side of this problem.”

The Boston Police Department says there were 57 allegations of drink-spiking in Boston between January 1 and July 31, but no arrests have been made. Sgt. John Boyle, a police department spokesperson, says the city doesn’t have historical data to know whether the numbers have increased.

But Boston reports are likely an undercount. Many victims may be too ashamed to report what happened, and most toxicology screenings are not equipped to detect date-rape drugs, like gamma hydroxybutyrate, known colloquially as GHB, according to interviews with advocates and experts.

When Sarah filed a police report, as requested by police, she was sent to the Boston Medical Center for a urine toxicology screen. The screening did not show any evidence of drugging.

Susan Wilcox, an emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, said that many people who come for testing are disappointed by the hospital’s inability to run other tests.

“We don’t routinely test for Rohypnol or GHB, the common drugs that are most commonly used in these scenarios,” said Wilcox, who has worked as an emergency physician in Boston for almost 18 years. “Unfortunately, with the limitations of our toxicology screens, it’s difficult to give people the answers to what exactly happened.”

Massachusetts General Hospital did not respond to requests for comment. But the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory told GBH News that the technology to detect such drugs exists, though outside of the hospital system.

A black and white block-lettered paper sign on a drink dispenser announces that customers may request a drink lid from their bartender.
A sign offering bar patrons drink lids is an indication of the rising concern about drink-spiking in Boston-area bars.
Kana Ruhalter GBH News

Hubbard called the “Booze in Boston” social media discussion a “a movement of the people” prompted by the lack of legal action. She joins and other online influencers also say businesses need to do more to protect their guests.

“If I'm coming to your establishment, and I'm risking my life to do so,” said Hubbard, “I really hope that you care enough about me and your patrons to have our best interests in mind.”

Late last year, the city’s Licensing Board urged businesses to take steps to keep people safe, including installing security cameras, posting safety information and cooperating with police. “It’s each Licensee’s responsibility to run a business that is safe for patrons and free of illegal activity,’’ the warning said.

Some bars have taken heed. Roadrunner, a new live music venue in Allston, placed signs at the bar warning patrons to “protect [their] drink.” Game On, a Fenway sports bar, has bathroom signs that advertise an “angel shot,” a drink order that signals to the bartender that an attendee feels unsafe or uncomfortable. And Empire, a restaurant in Seaport, offers complimentary cocktail covers and has a sign advising diners to “be safe and smart.”

Craig Henry, a bartender at the waterside bar, The Tall Ship, in East Boston, told GBH News that since word spread he and other bartenders are taking extra precautions to make guests feel safe, like opening cans directly in front of them. He also supports ways for people to communicate if they are feeling in danger.

“I think it’s great to have a sign that lets the bartenders know you’re in trouble,” he said.

Local spiking reports have also caught the attention of a Florida-based company called NightCap which creates hair scrunchies that expand into a drink cover.

Shirah Benarde, NightCap chief executive, says she’s planning to visit this week to promote her preventative covers at Boston University, Fenway Johnnie’s and Club Royale.

Bernarde, now 20, says she came up with the idea at 16 when her close friend was drugged at a bar. Her first prototype was created out of an old hair scrunchie and a pair of her mother’s pantyhose. Now the company has sold over 300,000 scrunchies in 40 countries and is backed by investors on the TV show, “Shark Tank.”

“We’re entering the ‘Red Zone,’ which is [a period] from now to Thanksgiving break where sexual assault cases spike,’’ she said. “I hope [the scrunchies] can help them avoid those incidents.”

Shannon McKean, president of Boston University’s Panhellenic Council for fraternities and sororities, says she discovered the drink covers while looking for information about ways to combat spiking after hearing about more incidents from classmates and fellow Greek-life members. McKean, a college junior, says she also has been a victim of spiking.

The council is hosting a private event at the university on Thursday, where students can pick up free scrunchies and other preventative tools. “NightCap’s products were the perfect way for us to stop spiking before it happens and reach a large number of students at the very beginning of our fall semester,” she said.