Staying Safe Around Drugs and Alcohol

Your Students' Union Advice Service is a free, independent and confidential service for all students.


It may seem like alcohol is a big part of British culture - something which you have to engage in to have a good time - but this isn’t the case at all. We are here with some top tips to help you make responsible choices that suit you and what you want to do.

  • Don’t feel the pressure. Did you know that 3 in 10 people under 24 choose not to drink at all? It proves that you don’t need alcohol to have fun. In fact, you can enjoy yourself much more without drinking. Think about it: you’ll save money, always stay in control, and avoid having to wake up the next day with a hangover, wondering what embarrassing things you might have said or done the night before. If you are worried about having to go to parties where you could be the only one not drinking, consider other social activities like going to the cinema, bowling, the theatre, or a concert. Your SU has loads of opportunities for you to socialise and make friends. From taking up a sport to joining a society, or finding your community, the opportunities are endless!
  • Be prepared. If you do choose to drink while you’re socialising, make sure to eat something before or while you’re out. Preparing yourself by lining your stomach helps to slow the effect of alcohol rushing straight to the organs and brain and gives the liver more of a chance to break the toxins down as they get absorbed more slowly. Check out these helpful articles from for how to enjoy alcohol safely.
  • Be aware. Make sure you keep track of how much you are drinking. The recommended number of units of alcohol per week is 14 units for both men and women. Depending on what you are drinking, this will equal no more than 7 drinks a week. Avoid binge drinking (which is drinking more than 5 drinks in a row). Even though this doesn’t go over the recommended weekly units, crowding drinks one after the other like this could make you more vulnerable to short term incidents, such as accidents, antisocial behaviour, and/or making you more likely to be a victim of crime/assault. Binge drinking is also more likely to lead to alcohol-related long term health problems such as increased blood pressure and the risks of some forms of cancers and heart disease. Alcohol can also easily become addictive. Use tools such as the MyDrinkAware app to easily and discretely keep track of how much you’re drinking.
  • Stay hydrated. Fun fact: by law, all bars and clubs have to provide you with free tap water if you ask for some, so it’s never been easier to stay hydrated on a night out. Remember, despite it being a liquid, alcohol will actually dehydrate you, so why not alternate each alcoholic drink with water or a soft drink of your choice?


Alcohol is a legal drug that’s commonly used for recreational purposes. But there are also lots of other substances out there that you may hear about or that are offered to you. Some of these are illegal. consider these top tips if you ever find yourself in a situation where you are exposed to or are being offered a variety of drugs.

  • Consider not taking them at all. There is never a totally safe way to take drugs, so our top bit of advice is always ‘just say no.’ You should never feel pressured into trying anything you’re not sure about or don’t want to do. Remember: real friends will never think less of you. If you are uncomfortable refusing, try and avoid the situation completely or have a ready-made reason for why you don’t want to take part so you can respond quickly without having to think about it. You can find more info on how to keep yourself and your friends safe around drugs here on
  • Be clear about your choices. If you do choose to take drugs, make sure you know enough to manage the risks and keep yourself safe. Is the place you are in clean and safe? Do you know and trust the people you’re with? Do you know exactly what you’re taking? Is it a pure substance or is it mixed with something else? Do you know what strength it is? If the answer to any of these is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’ then ask yourself again, ‘is this a good idea?’
  • Be clear about ‘what’ and ‘how much’. Always make sure you know if the drug you are taking is mixed with other substances like alcohol or medication. Drug ‘cocktails’ like this can have serious effects on your health and can even be fatal in some cases. Always keep in mind how the drug will be taken. Will it be swallowed? Smoked? Injected? This is important as it will influence the amount you should have and the amount of time it takes to start working. If you take something and don’t feel the effects straight away, don’t rush and take even more. This could lead to an overdose. Always remember ‘start low, go slow.’
  • Be clear about the consequences. You are free to be curious and make your own choices, but always remember taking some drugs can be illegal and the legal consequences can stay with you for life. Find out more about the different categories of drugs and what the law says about them here.


If you feel you need advice about or help with a problem related to drugs or alcohol use, it’s important you seek support. Regardless of the situation surrounding your drug or alcohol use (or any worries you may have about any consequences), the number one thing anyone will ever be concerned about is that you are getting the help you need and deserve. Positive change will never happen if you stay silent. Follow the links below to find lists of specialist organisations you can contact who will provide you with a safe, non-judgmental support space.

  • Talk To Frank - Find more drug and alcohol support resources and services near you here.
  • NHS Drug and Alcohol Webpages - Official NHS advice and information about alcohol and drug addiction, including addiction support and services.
  • Life Stuff - Help and advice for alcohol - helplines, information, and support (
  • Adfam - Support for those who are negatively affected by a family member or friend’s addiction/s.
  • With You – Free, confidential support with alcohol, drugs, and/or mental health (for those suffering from addiction and those negatively affected by a friend or family member suffering from addiction).

  • Change Grow Live – Coventry drug and alcohol support service.
  • Positive Choices Coventry – Free, confidential advice service for people aged between 5 and 24, focused on drugs and alcohol but also offers advice on sexual health and unhealthy partner relationships.

  • North Yorkshire Horizons – Adult alcohol and drug recovery service. Free, confidential help and advice via phone or email, as well as drop-in hubs for in-person help.

  • Change Grow Live – St Luke’s Drug and Alcohol Service (in-person support and advice centre).
  • Via Subwize Barking and Dagenham – free, confidential advice, information, and support, as well as private sessions with your own support worker (in-person and/or online).

  • Via – free confidential advice, care, and support for people living in Greenwich aged 18+.
  • Live Well Greenwich – information and advice on drugs and alcohol addiction, as well as further links and contact details for support.

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