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Health and Wellbeing

Let's talk about drugs, and how to say NO

By bzgeorge 09 Oct 2019

(The University of London does not condone or encourage drug and alcohol use.)


It's no secret that drug and alcohol use is a part of student culture. Often this side of student life is glorified as the main way to build a social life. While drug culture is a part of university, it is not the entire experience and should not discourage you from further education and really getting involved in life at UoL.

The best way to handle this side of student life is to educate yourself and learn how to say no to drugs. Steering away from peer pressure can be tricky, but we have many support services available to help you. 

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What does your university say about drugs and alcohol?

First and foremost, drugs are ILLEGAL in the UK. Universities across the UK have a zero tolerance policy towards drugs.

The Univerity of London encourages "students to take care of themselves when considering using them and to avoid taking any risks which they might regret later." We are aware of the nature of student culture and offers a non-judgemental advice service. Don't worry, we are not going to label you as an 'alcohol or drug abuser' if you ask any questions or need some support.

What are the effects of drugs?

Drug abuse has social, psychological and physical consequences.

  • Short term: Nausea, dehydration, poor decision making and memory loss.
  • Long-term: Liver Disease and heart problems.

Once you start missing a few lectures because of a hangover or come down, the social impacts of drug abuse will start kicking in. One missed lecture can turn into falling behind with your academic studies and losing touch with your coursemates.

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What does your Student Hub advise?

While UoL does not condone this behaviour, we do offer some tips for managing drug culture:

  • Educate yourself: It is vital that you understand the nature, influence and effect of any drug before ingesting it. Make a list of the advantages and drawbacks of taking the drug.
  • Keep track of your consumption: If you feel yourself becoming dependent or addicted to a drug, seek help immediately. Keep note of what you take, how much and how you feel after. Drug abuse can spiral very quickly.
  • Social pressure: Think about why you are taking drugs. Are you feeling pressured by those around you? Maybe stop buying alcohol in rounds, meeting in drug orientated events/places and try doing a sober activity instead.
  • How is your mood? Are you taking drugs to feel happier? Often users are feeling anxious, depressed or shy and feel that substances can help them to socialise.
  • Try a sober month: If you are worried about your intake, try going sober for a month - Sober October could work. You might notice a considerable difference in your health and decide not to take drugs or drink alcohol as often.
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So, how do I say no?

Many students are intimidated by drug culture. It can be difficult to say no when everyone is taking drugs around you. Most people are scared they will offend the drug users by saying no. Well...

  • Make friends that don't use them: This is an easy way to stay clear of drugs. However, in student halls you will be living with a diverse group of individuals, and some may enjoy drugs. Once you get to know them, you could ask them about their drug use. You could even suggest that they don't do drugs in the flat where others may feel uncomfortable. Remember to be sensitive and friendly. 
  • Avoid events that involve drugs: If you talk to a few experienced students, you can find out which events have more drug users and which ones include a couple of cocktails and dancing. Student socials can also be non-alcoholic, it just depends on the society that you join and the type of events you enjoy!
  • Say NO: Often people will offer you drugs as a way to be friendly and include you in the social group. Although, this can be a little scary. It's best to reply with something along the lines of: "It's not my thing, but you do you." You're not offending them. You are making a choice, just as they are.
  • If your friends do use drugs: If your best friends do enjoy drugs, then talk to them about it. If it makes you uncomfortable watching them take the substance, then ask if they can do it away from you. For example, in the bathroom. If they are good friends, they will understand! 

Your Student Hub recommends these services:

Make smart choices and remember that everyone the right to their decision!