Drugs and alcohol – reducing the risk

Posted on

by Becky Risley, Senior Drug and Alcohol Practitioner at SPACED

The festivals were cancelled, nightclubs are closed and the pubs are shutting at 10pm.

Despite the rules and regulations in place, using drugs including alcohol in halls and student accommodation is something that is likely to happen. Behind closed doors, without the usual protection from door and bar staff, as well as medical teams, the risk of accidental overdoses has increased for students.

For some, drug use – including alcohol – at universities is a whole new experience while for others it’s something they feel very familiar with. Whatever your previous experience, educating yourself is the best way to ensure you stay safe.

Tragically we have already seen the fatal consequences of drug use at university in the North East over the weekend. In the South West there are local reports of substances being mis-sold and having devastating consequences for those who choose to use them – follow SPACED Instagram for up to date drug warnings and harm reduction advice.

Accidental overdoses are preventable – look after yourselves and look after each other. If you or anyone else on campus may have taken too much, and especially if someone is unresponsive, call 999 and/or UWE Security on 0117 328 9999 to ask for help.

To reduce the risks and ensure you’re making an informed decision you can follow these steps:

Large quantities of alcohol consumed rapidly can cause respiratory depression, coma and death.

  • Avoid shots, doubles and strong spirits to avoid becoming too drunk too quickly.
  • If alcohol is combined with other drugs especially Ketamine and benzodiazepines (eg Xanax) the risks increase greatly.
  • Avoid using alcohol and illicit drugs together.

Mixing drugs can be fatal.

  • Using Drugs+Me can give you factual information about what the risks are when you combine one substance with another.

What are you taking?

  • Lockdown has affected the supply of drugs into the country leading to shortages which results in some drugs being heavily cut.
  • Using a reagent test can identify if a drug that you have brought is what you think it is – although it can’t tell you how strong it is, it’s a way to ensure you aren’t putting dangerous adulterants into your body.
  • But pure doesn’t mean safe – high purity MDMA can be very dangerous when taken in large quantities.

If you would like advice or support related to drug including alcohol use you can contact the UWE Wellbeing Service and ask for a 1:1 appointment or to attend a one-off group harm reduction awareness session with SPACED.

SPACED offer a free, confidential harm reduction advice and information around drugs including alcohol.


Becky Risley is a Senior Drugs and Alcohol Practitioner in the Wellbeing Service here at UWE Bristol. In response to events at universities in the North East over the weekend, she is raising awareness to help you stay safe as you move onto campus.

Take time to educate yourself on the harms that drugs (including alcohol) can cause. Remember, you can never eliminate risk completely, so it’s important to understand your own motivations and risk factors.

UWE Bristol does not endorse the use of drugs including alcohol, but we want our students to be safe. We operate a policy of harm reduction that prioritises the welfare and wellbeing of our community.

However, if there is reason to believe that a student has been dealing drugs we will immediately suspend the student pending internal investigation and/or criminal proceedings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *