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Students should be able to make the most of their time at university. But all too often, no matter the campus culture, it can turn into excessive drinking and experimenting with drugs. Honest facts about drugs and alcohol can help you make better choices enabling you to be safe and stay well.


Alcohol is a feature in many students lives today and can be enjoyed by most in moderation.

However, there are instances where, if too much is consumed, it can be harmful to you and lead to health problems and other issues. That’s why it’s important to understand the effects of alcohol on your body and consider your relationship with it.

There is no guaranteed safe level of drinking, but if you drink below recommended daily limits the risks of harming your health are low.

The NHS recommends that: ‘to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level you are safest not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week – 14 units is equivalent to a bottle and a half of wine or five pints of export-type lager (5% abv) over the course of a week – this applies to both men and women’.

Calculating your alcohol intake

The NHS have launched a free drinks tracker app that you can use on the go and on nights out to help you calculate the number of units you are consuming.

Effects of alcohol on your health

In the short term, drinking too much can have an immediate impact on our lives. It can affect your judgement, leading you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do and that you might regret later, for example, unplanned sexual activity, or fighting. It can also leave you vulnerable to physical or sexual assault. Alcohol use can have a serious impact on both your physical and emotional health.

Drink Spiking

Drink spiking is when someone adds alcohol or drugs to a person's drink without them knowing.

Adding a few extra shots to a friend’s drink may seem like a harmless bit of fun but not only could it ruin a good night out it could also result in serious criminal charges. Assault, rape or robbery carry additional sentences. Sex with someone without gaining the victim’s consent is also a crime.

Spiking someone’s drink is a serious crime and carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence.


Drugs are substances that have an effect on your body and brain, and there are many legal and illegal drugs that have varying effects on your body. Information about the most common drugs and their effects is available at Drugswise.

You may also find online support services such as Talk to Frank helpful in answering any questions or concerns you may have about drugs.

Effects of drugs on your health

There are well-documented risks associated with drug use such as potential risks to your physical and mental health, an increase in unprotected sex, the risk of STI’s and unplanned pregnancy. In addition, there are risks involved in taking two or more drugs at the same time. This can include alcohol, over-the-counter medication or prescription drugs, and illegal drugs. The Public Health Agency (PHA) explains how combining different types of drugs can be unpredictable and dangerous. The specific risks linked to particular combinations and advice on how to reduce your risk of harm can be found on the PHA’s website.

Looking after yourself

If you are going out for the night it’s important to remember to keep yourself safe. Read these helpful tips on how to have a safe night out!

Getting advice

If you have any concerns about alcohol or drugs or would like further information please visit your local GP. The University's Student Wellbeing Team can also offer advice, guidance and support, particularly harm reduction advice, and signposting to appropriate support sources.

Ulster University Substance Use Policy aims to increase awareness of the implications of alcohol, drugs and substance misuse for health and career prospects. It also draws attention to the legal implications of drugs, alcohol and substance-related behaviour.

Useful websites

Support services in your local area