There are many different reasons for why someone might decide to use drugs. Whilst we don’t condone drug use, we are aware that some students may use them or may be thinking of trying them. For anyone in this situation, it is important to ensure that you are fully informed of the potential risks and effects associated with the drug so that you are able you to make an informed decision.

Helpful information

Drugwise is an excellent resource for drug related information and provides comprehensive, evidence-based information on the effects of drugs, their risks and the legal implications associated with their use. The website contains factsheets, a drug encyclopedia and a FAQ’s section www.drugwise.org.uk.

Frank also provide comprehensive information on the effects and risks associated with drugs. They also offer confidential advice and can be contacted by live chats, email, telephone and/or SMS www.talktofrank.com.

If you choose to use drugs then it is important that you try to minimise some of the risks associated with their use. There is no safe way to take drugs and no amount of harm reduction strategies will make the drug use risk-free, but the below strategies may help to make things “safer”:

  • Avoid mixing drugs and don’t use with other substances such as alcohol and prescription medications.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol while on cocaine, mixing these two substances produces a highly toxic substance in your liver called cocaethylene.

  • If you are dancing, take regular breaks to cool down and drink sips of water regularly– but don’t drink more than a 500mls per hour. Excessive water intake can be fatal.

  • Never drive or operate machinery after taking substances.

  • Always seek help if you are worried about yourself or a friend. Ensure that you give medical professionals as much information as possible about the drug or drugs that were taken.

  • If you use drugs, take them in a safe environment with other people, don’t use them alone. Make sure you tell them what you have taken.

  • If you do choose to take drugs start with a small amount e.g. a quarter of a pill and wait a couple of hours before taking any more.

  • If you snort substances, always use your own straw and do not share snorting equipment with other people as blood borne viruses like hepatitis are easily spread.

(Guidance taken from Drugwise & Drugaid Cymru.)

"Smart Drugs"

The use of so called “smart drugs” such as Modafil and Ritalin are taken by some individuals in the hope that they will improve their cognitive performance. It is illegal to supply or sell these drugs. Some of the side effects associated with these pills include aggression, anxiety, irritability, confusion, chest pains, depression, diarrhoea, drowsiness, palpitations and hallucinations.

One of the main areas of concern with the use of “smart drugs” is that no studies have been conducted to establish the long term side effects of these substances. Also, if tablets are bought over the internet, it is impossible to know the exact content of the tablets, and whether they are real, fake or contaminated.

Addaction, the drug and alcohol charity, have issued the following advice for anyone considering taking “smart drugs”:

  • Research the side effects of the specific drug and consider the risks. Remember that it is usually impossible to know the exact contents of the tablets if they are bought online

  • Avoid taking 'smart drugs' with alcohol, illicit substances or any other medications, as they may interact. Remember that some drugs can stay in your system for a number of days

  • If you need support, please speak to someone and seek advice. You can visit your university counselling or wellbeing service. You can also use Addaction’s confidential web chat at www.addaction.org.uk.


Drug use and University regulations

The University considers the possession, storage, sale, use or misuse of controlled drugs to be a disciplinary offence and will initiate disciplinary proceedings in accordance with Regulation 7; Student Discipline where necessary.


If concern about disciplinary action due to drug use is stopping you coming forward for support for other personal, welfare or academic issues we would always encourage students to make an appointment with Advice & Support Centre to discuss your options in a confidential space.

If you are subject to a disciplinary process Advice & Support Centre can also provide confidential, non-judgemental advice and support throughout the process.


If you feel that your drug use is becoming problematic, or if your drug use is starting to affect your relationships, wellbeing and/or your ability function, then please seek help. The NHS Live Well ‘Treating Addiction Q&A’ guide provides useful information on where you can get help for drug use and explains the different treatment options available.

Open Door Team

The University’s Open Door Team provide support to students experiencing psychological and mental health difficulties. You can contact Open Door by telephone 01904 322 140 or email [email protected]. Initial appointments can be made via the online referral form.

York Drug & Alcohol Service

The York Drug & Alcohol Service is delivered in partnership between Changing Lives and Spectrum Community Health CiC. The service provides a range of clinical and psychological interventions for individuals affected by drug and/or alcohol issues.

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 01904 464 680

Website: www.spectrumhealth.org.uk/substance-misuse/york-drug-and-alcohol-service/

On campus, you can also get in touch with the Advice & Support Centre (or the GSA advice service for postgraduate students) for independent and confidential guidance on support options, or speak with a member of your college wellbeing team.


Frank provide confidential drug advice and provide information and advice through live chats, email, telephone and/or SMS.

Website: www.talktofrank.com


The drug and alcohol charity Addaction provide professional advice and information through webchats. Their opening times can vary but they are usually available Monday-Friday. Their twitter feed details their operational times.

Website: www.addaction.org.uk/webchat

Narcotics anonymous

Narcotics anonymous is a self-help fellowship of people who wish to stop using drugs.  Their regular self-help meetings are based on a twelve step programme similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Helpline: 0300 9991212

Website: http://ukna.org/

Help for carers/family members affected by drug use

Please see the below sources of support if you have been affected by a family member’s drug and alcohol use.

York Carers Centre

York Carers Centre provide support to anyone who affected by someone else’s substance misuse. This includes parents, partners, children, siblings, grandparents and friends. Carers can access their carer support services and their substance misuse carer support group. This support group is held on on the third Wednesday of the month, 1.30 to 3.30pm at Tesco Community Room, Askham Bar, York.

Telephone: 01904 715 490

Email [email protected]

Website: www.yorkcarerscentre.co.uk/


Adfam provide information and support for the families of drug and alcohol users.

They provide information on local support groups and helplines.

Website: www.adfam.org.uk