Moving to university may be the first time a student is independent of family. Experimenting with drugs and excessive drinking may seem socially acceptable. Others may be dealing with complex personal issues as well as their studies and turn to alcohol or drugs to help them cope.  

It’s important to recognise that not every person fits into one pattern of symptoms. People are impacted in a variety of ways. The earlier the problem is addressed, the less likely that drugs or alcohol will cause serious consequences for you, some of which are outlined below. 

  • Loss of concentration – you are more likely to miss classes, submit work late and achieve poor results for coursework and exams
  • Risk of dependence or addiction 
  • Increased vulnerability and loss of control – you are more likely to be a victim of violence and sexual assault and have unprotected sex which can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy 
  • Changes in weight and overall worsening of health in the short term. In the long term, risk of liver disease, heart attack and various cancers 
  • Increased anxiety and depression and, in extreme cases, drug-induced psychosis.

More information

Support from BU

The [email protected] team can be your first point of contact. They offer confidential discussions and can signpost you to the services that will most benefit you.  

Support is available on campus from Student Wellbeing, which offers free confidential support, counselling, practical advice around your wellbeing and information about drug and alcohol services that can be accessed in the community. You can also talk to Faith & Reflection, the Student Medical Centre or your own GP. SUBU Advice can also provide help and support.

If you wish to improve your lifestyle, our SportBU facilities include a gym, fitness classes and a variety of sporting activities. Discover new social groups through the many clubs and societies run by the Students’ Union. 

If you're in BU accommodation, our ResLifeBU team are there to support your wellbeing and run regular alcohol-free events. 

If alcohol or drug issues are starting to affect your academic work, you can talk to your Personal Tutor, Programme Leader (PL) or Programme Support Officer (PSO). Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to an extension or postponement. Find out more about Exceptional Circumstances

External support

If you want to go elsewhere for support, have a look at the wellbeing resources page for details of local and national services that provide education, counselling and one-to-one support. 

We Are With You is a charity providing free, confidential support to people experiencing issues with drugs, alcohol or mental health. LiveWell Dorset can support with lifestyle changes including reducing alcohol use and and smoking. 

FRANK, Know the Score and Rehab 4 Addiction have lots of useful information on their websites and you can also contact their helplines if you or someone you know has been affected by substance misuse. They can help signpost you to the most effective treatments, including alcohol rehab, drug rehab, detox services, intervention, aftercare and outpatient counselling.