Alcohol and drug use

Alcohol and drugs can affect everyone differently. The effects depend on the amount taken, your mood and your surroundings. Some people can suffer a bad reaction to alcohol and drugs. It is important to know what to do if you, or a friend, become ill after drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs. If you are worried that you or your friends are drinking too much or using drugs contact your Hall Warden or Student Advisor. Remember the safest option for you is not taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol.


If you are wondering about your drink or drug use, have you considered the following?

Psychological consequences

  • Are you using drink or drugs to escape from a problem which you might be able to solve if you faced it? If so you may be perpetuating your shyness, anxiety, depression, unhappiness etc. rather than dealing with it for once and all.
  • Drink and drugs don't permanently change our world. They allow us to feel a temporary confidence or happiness, but the effect is usually one of borrowed time. Often the unhappiness or anxiety returns even more strongly once the effects wear off.
  • Drink and drugs can cause psychological problems by themselves. Alcohol can commonly cause depression; drugs can also cause depression, or can trigger anxiety or even psychosis (loss of reality).

Social consequences

  • Drink and drugs are often seriously expensive, so uncontrolled use can lead to financial problems.
  • You can quite easily end up in trouble with the law. Although drinking alcohol is legal, it can lead to assault and driving when drunk which are not. Similarly, although the law may turn a blind eye to personal use of certain drugs, this attitude is not consistent. Sentences for any supplying can be heavy and unpredictable. Any conviction for drink or drugs offences may severely limit the opportunities open to you in the future.
  • Pronounced use of drink or drugs tends to rigidly define social groups, so it may limit your circle of friends.
  • Continual or large scale use of alcohol has a bad effect on most people's sex-life.

Physical consequences

  • Drink definitely lowers people's ability to resist harming themselves when they have problems.
  • Drink can lower people's inhibitions against hurting others.
  • Drink greatly lessens people's ability to say no to unwanted sexual encounters which they would have definitely avoided had they been sober.
  • Many serious accidents are drink and drug related.
  • There are long-term health risks.

All these things will not happen to everybody. You may be lucky and avoid any serious mishaps. However, all these consequences are seen routinely enough by anyone involved in welfare work to suggest they are not exaggerated or unusual.

Taking control

If you want to take more control of your use of drink or drugs the following suggestions may help:

  • Make a list of the advantages and drawbacks of your alcohol and drug use which are personally significant to you. The above list of possible consequences may help focus your mind. Then decide whether you would like to lessen the disadvantages.
  • Keep a diary of your consumption over a week. Be honest about the amounts you are using. Consider whether you could limit your intake by changing your routine so as not to put you in tempting situations.
  • Talk to someone whom you trust about your use. See if they feel you have cause for concern.
  • Consider what you are using. In particular note when you use concentrated or particularly dangerous forms of drink and drugs. Can you substitute a less potent alternative?
  • Consider the social pressures to consume. Can you limit your exposure to these - e.g. stop buying in rounds, meeting in pubs, partying late etc?
  • Consider what emotions trigger consumption. Are you using drink and drugs to help deal with certain feelings - frustration, anxiety, shyness, boredom etc. Can you find alternative means of dealing with these feelings?
  • Try a month of abstinence. See whether you can do it, and if you can find different ways of dealing with problems. There may be distinct advantages to being able to bring your sober and unstoned self to look at various problems!

Books and other sources of help

  • Let's Drink to Your Health: A Self-Help Guide to Sensible Drinking (Nick Heather & Ian Robertson) - A suitable book on coping with drug abuse is still being researched - suggestions welcomed.
  • Overcoming Problem Drinking: A Self-Help Guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques (Marcantonio Spada)

The Student Counselling Service is able to help with drug and alcohol related problems. If your campus does not have a Counselling Service please speak wth your Student Advisor who will be able to help. We work in a non-judgemental way to help you achieve the goals you have set yourself. As you will see from our confidentiality statement we do not normally inform anyone of any illegal activity we hear about in counselling. The only exception to this rule is when there is a clear and immediate risk to someone's life.

Partying a bit too hard lately? Please take a look at our Alcohol Awareness Campaign.