A high proportion of students at university experiment with drugs. In 2018, an NUS survey recorded that 56% of students they asked had taken recreational drugs at some point in their lives and of those students, 39% were currently taking drugs.

There is clear evidence that recreational drug use amongst young people is widespread and rates of severe consequences, such as hospitalisation and death, continue to increase 1. I believe it is important to educate students in how to reduce the harm relating to drug use and for every organisation who provides specialist support to students to understand the reasons why students choose to use drugs.

At the Guild, we do not encourage or condone drug use; however, we recognise that drug use is prevalent amongst students and seek to reduce the potential harm of associated risks.

The campaign aims to

Some students may be unaware of the impact drug taking can have on different areas of their lives. Research shows that drug use may have a negative impact on mental and physical health and wellbeing 2. There are further risks including having bad experiences or reactions whilst taking drugs, and additional consequences from mixing different kinds of drugs and alcohol 3. Guild Advice will be producing online resources to help you learn more about the risks associated with drugs taking.

I am working to introduce drug testing kits to the Guild along with resources that point you in the right direction to find more information about how to reduce the risks associated with taking drugs and drinking alcohol. While these kits can’t tell you the exact purity or strength of the drugs you’re testing, they can give you an indication of other substances present so you can make an informed decision.

The University of Liverpool’s Student Alcohol and Drugs policy outlines their disciplinary procedures concerning the misuse of drugs and alcohol. In practice, the University takes a range of

disciplinary action against students who supply, intend to supply or are in possession of drugs, and any anti-social behaviour resulting from drug or alcohol use. The policy states that students who come forward for support around their own drug use would not usually be subject to the disciplinary procedures. Students on clinical placements should consider that they are also held to the fitness to practise policy.

I have been working with key figures from within the University and the Guild as well as harm reduction experts from external charities to understand what is considered the best way to support students. By sharing best practice from other universities, students’ unions and organisations specialising in drug harm reduction, I hope to challenge outdated practices and responses to student drug taking whilst improving the support available to those who need it.

Get Support

The Guild Advice team is offers free and confidential one-to-one advice and signposting to all University of Liverpool students. They are independent from the University and here to support you; our trained Advisors are non-judgmental and can provide you with information on University procedures, so you can make an informed decision about the options available.

The team can also signpost you to specialist drug and alcohol support services.

You can contact our Advice Team by email to guildadvice@liv.ac.uk, or visit them at one of their drop-in sessions. Drop-in usually takes place on Monday - Friday between 1pm-3pm, although times can be subject to change; you can email or call reception on 0151 794 6868 to confirm drop-in times with the team. To access drop-in, you simply need to go to Guild reception during the available times and request to see an adviser.

Student Welfare Advice and Guidance – have a daily drop-in. They are based in the Student Services Centre, Alsop Building (building number 759 on the campus map, 11:00-15:00 Monday-Friday). If you are worried about drug and/or alcohol dependencies affecting your mental health, Student Services provide a confidential service provide emotional and practical support, intervention and advice on any concern about mental health issues, at any time during a student’s studies here at the University.

The Loop – The Loop provide harm reduction advice and information, welfare support, drug safety testing and training. The Loop have previously provided on-site testing at festivals such as Boomtown. They offer an online service called WEDINOS that provides information on the chemical profile of samples tested alongside harm reduction information. For more information see: wearetheloop.org/get-your-substance-tested

Frank - Frank is a Government funded service that offers information on a number of substances and their effects on you, as well as support for anyone with a drug or alcohol problem or information if you are worried about someone with a drug or alcohol addiction.

We Are With You – We Are With You work with individuals from the age of 18 and run a number of specialised services to support people into recovery

More information about Harm Reduction

If you are interested in learning more about harm reduction and the research underpinning it as an approach to drug and alcohol use, more information can be found here:

Get In Touch

If you’re interested in getting involved in this campaign or learning more about the work we’re doing at the Guild, get in touch by email (pres@liverpool.ac.uk) or pop in to our Student Officer Lounge on the Guild Street.