Amy and Rachel, Wellbeing Practitioners from our Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Service, talk about drug use at Uni…
Whilst we do not condone the use of illegal drugs on campus, we do understand that many students are curious to try drugs or will use drugs recreationally. As adults, this is your decision to make, however, this is a chance to get your facts straight on the risks involved, University Policy and where to get help should you feel you have a problem with your drug use.
Know the risks
Drugs pose numerous health risks and did you know that as a student, any illegal drug use has the potential to pose a risk to you studying here? The university takes possession and use of illegal drugs seriously. Previously branded ‘legal highs’, have now been reclassified as illegal ‘New Psychoactive Substances’ and can also result in consequences.
Our Security Staff and Residences Managers, in collaboration with South Wales Police, have been trying to find the most appropriate ways of addressing illegal drug use on campus. There is now a policy in place that results in the following:
Any student found in possession of a large amount of an illegal substance will be reported to Security. Details of the offence will be passed on to South Wales Police, who may give students a Street Caution or an Official Caution.
Whilst a street caution, may not result in a permanent record, more serious offences will often lead to students being cautioned or prosecuted. For healthcare students or any student who could be subject to an enhanced criminal bureau check, this has the potential to not only affect your study and your health and wellbeing, it could also damage your future career.
If you are studying a subject where you attend placement or have contact with members of the public you may be putting members of the public at risk and you may be putting your degree in jeopardy. The university takes Fitness to Practice Issues seriously. Whilst these are not intended to be punitive, and we do support students who have problems with substance misuse. The university does expect it’s students to take responsibility for themselves and maintain a standard of behaviour that is outlined in the Student Charter:
Despite the risks involved, we understand that drug use may still continue on campus. If you have decided you definitely want to take a drugs, please think about the following safety tips. No drug use can be considered safe, however, there are certainly factors that can increase the risks of taking drugs.
- Find out more information. Make sure you find out as much as possible about the drug you are taking and also who you are getting it from. Do you know and trust the person you are getting it from? Do they know what is in the drug they are giving you? Discover what the drug is made from and find out the short term and long term effects it can have. For an A-Z of types of drugs, why not Talk to Frank
- Take with caution. If you are definitely going to try a drug, take a little bit and wait for the effect first. This will hopefully give you a better judgement on how it affects you.
- Don’t mix drugs with other drugs or alcohol. Mixing substances can cause even more damaging effects and can prove fatal. In the UK, 34% of deaths due to drug poisoning indicate more than one specific drug used; 30% mention alcohol use with 1 or more drug.
- Be aware. There is no set dose of a drug that can be measured as ‘safe’. Any dose can be physically damaging or lethal – we are all different in the way that our body and mind responds and we all have different tolerance levels to substances.
To find out more about the symptoms associated with specific drugs, visit the NHS Drugs page.
Knowing when you have a drug abuse problem
Different drugs have different physical effects, and it can be quite easy to interpret the after effects of drug use, as normal, when sometimes they are a sign of addiction. If you recognise some of the following symptoms you may have a drug abuse problem:
- Neglecting your responsibilities at university or work because of drug use
- Using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high
- Getting in to legal trouble because of your drug use
- Having relationship problems with your family, friends or partner because of drugs
You may have progressed from abuse to addiction if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Developing a drug tolerance and needing more of the drug to experience the same effects
- Taking drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms (which may include nausea, restlessness, depression, anxiety, insomnia, shaking and sweating)
- Loss of control over your drug use
- Life beginning to revolve around drug use
- Abandoning activities you used to enjoy in favour of taking drugs
- Continuing to use drugs even though you know they’re harming you
If you are struggling with urges to use drugs and want to combat these then some of the following quick tips may help:
- Use positive stress relief strategies to help you get through difficulties
- This can be vigorous, like running, or gentle, like a walk around the block
- Engaging in distracting activities or activities that are in line with what you truly value
- Mindfulness and Meditation
- Self-soothing Activities
If you don’t manage to control your urges, don’t get disheartened. While it is understandably frustrating and discouraging, treat it as a learning opportunity and think about what could help you manage the situation differently next time.
If you are really struggling with your drug use and want to make some changes, would it be useful to talk to a professional or a friend? Please see our support details below, for information on how the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Team can support you. We also work in collaboration with Taith, an open-access and engagement service that supports any student struggling with a drug or alcohol problem. Taith offer a confidential drop-in at our Student Support Service on 50 Park Place. Please email us if you would like to book a slot with them at Wellbeingandcounselling@cardif.ac.uk
Other Useful links:
- Change for Life – Brought to you by the Welsh Assembly government, this has loads of simple advice for you to improve your health and wellbeing
- E-DAS is the single point of entry in to substance misuse support and treatment in Cardiff.
- Change Grow Live – providing treatment and support – http://www.changegrowlive.org/
- Narcotics Anonymous supports people who have misused narcotic drugs.
- Alcoholics Anonymous provides support for people who want to stop drinking, or have stopped in the past.
- The NHS is a great source of information about drinking and alcohol.
- DrinkAware’s Unit Calculator can be used to check whether you are drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Solas Cymru runs the Footsteps to Recovery support programme for people who are in or are seeking recovery from a substance misuse problem.
- Frank offers friendly and confidential advice about drugs. Phone 0300 123 6600 or text a question to 82111
- Dan is a Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline. Phone 0808 808 2234 or text DAN to 81066
Contacting Counselling Health & Wellbeing
If you are struggling with drug use, please know Cardiff University Support Services are here for you – there is no problem too big or too small and we would be happy to provide you with some support. We offer a range of flexible support options including:
- Counselling and Wellbeing Appointments
- Face to Face, Online or Telephone
- Wellbeing Walk-in: Drop-in Service running Monday to Friday
- Wellbeing Workshops
- Therapeutic Groups
- Wellbeing Champion Support
- Self-help resources
Bookable appointments are available via our online referral questionnaire. We also offer a Wellbeing Walk-In Service, Monday to Friday, 3pm to 3.45pm and Wednesday mornings, 9.30am to 10.15am, at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place. We also hold a walk-in service at our Student Support Centre in Cardigan House at the Heath, on Wednesday afternoons 3pm to 3.45pm.
Watch our video and see for yourself that we have friendly and approachable staff. Staff who are able to listen to you non-judgmentally, in a safe and confidential space.
If talking to a member of staff is something you are not sure about, why not chat to one of our Student Wellbeing Champions. They are trained student volunteers who can signpost you to support, offer you a peer ear and give you basic health and wellbeing advice. If you would like to see our Champions in action, check out their video.
If you are worried that you are experiencing physical symptoms that may be affecting your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this. If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 0845 46 47 or check out their website to view all of your GP options.
Amy and Rachel, Wellbeing Practitioners
Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Team
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus. For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.