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Support & Wellbeing

Healthy Lifestyles - Addiction & Support

By AnnabelK 05 Sep 2020

For many students, University is a time to experiement and reinvent themselves. This might sometimes involve alcohol and substance abuse. Not only should you never feel like you have to keep up with others, you should also know that the use and supply of recreational drugs is illegal in the UK. The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Students’ Union has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs.


It’s important to remember that drugs can contain many unknown chemicals, and can have unexpected negative mental and physical health effects. It's difficult to predict how someone will react to a drug. People may react differently to the same drug at different times or in different situations. This may differ depending on the type of drug, whether it has been mixed with any other substances, the amount someone takes, and the environment or social situation in which they are in when they take it. 

All drugs have some kind of effect on a person’s mental health including perception, mood, and behaviour. Taking drugs can lead to long-term mental health problems, such as depression, psychosis or schizophrenia. If someone regularly uses drugs, or becomes dependent on them, this can have a negative impact on their day-to-day life. For example, it could lead to problems with money, academic commitments, relationships and low self-esteem. 

If you are concerned about your own drug use, or someone else’s, contact the support services mentioned below, and find out more about The University’s approach here.

Sheffield Students’ Union direct students to external guidance from The Loop to make sure that, whilst drug use cannot be condoned, people are as informed as possible, able to take all reasonable precautions, and aware of the short term and long term consequences and know where they can get help and support both now and in the future. You can read more about their advice here.


Alcohol is legal, but it is the most toxic of the commonly-used drugs. Moderate use is not usually a problem. Alcohol makes you feel relaxed and more sociable, feeling subdued, so that you drink more in order to recreate the pleasant effects. Large amounts will lead to uninhibited behaviour and increase the chances of aggression. The long-term effects are memory loss, difficulty thinking clearly or problem-solving, and poor concentration. In time, addiction and dependency will occur and even though these effects will go away if you stop drinking, it can be dangerous to stop drinking suddenly. Therefore you would need to seek advice and information from a professional to help you deal with the potential withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, confusion, disorientation, and hallucinations). 

While at University, you might feel pressure to go out drinking from time to time. Residence Life and the Students’ Union cater to all students, and there are plenty of activities taking place that do not involve alcohol, if alcohol isn't for you. Check out the Residence Life programme for a whole host of alcohol-free events, trips and workshops.

Drink Spiking

Drink spiking occurs when alcohol and/or another drug is placed in a person's drink without their knowledge.  The resulting harm can include sexual assault, robbery and unprotected sex. Many of these substances are quickly absorbed after being consumed, resulting in rapid onset of the effects. Symptoms to look out for include feeling dizzy or faint, feeling ill or sleepy, feeling drunk (even if you think you’ve only had a little alcohol to drink), passing out, and waking up feeling uncomfortable and confused with memory blanks about the night before.

Always buy your own drink and watch it being poured, don't accept drinks from strangers. Never leave your drink unattended while you dance or go to the toilet. Don't drink or taste anyone else's drink, and dispose of your drink, if you think it tastes odd.

If you think someone has had their drink spiked, do not leave them alone. If they are experiencing bad effects, call Security Services on 0114 222 4444, and request an ambulance immediately. Don’t delay, you could save their life. 

What support is available regarding drugs or alcohol? 

If you are dealing with a drug or alcohol problem, there are a number of internal and external support services that you can access for information, support and advice.

Support at TUoS

A good first point of contact at The University of Sheffield is the University Health Service, or your GP. For further support, you can approach the University Counselling Service. The UHS and the UCS work in a non-judgemental, confidential way to help you achieve your goals. They do not inform anyone of illegal activity unless there is a clear and immediate risk to someone’s life.

If you are using drugs as a coping mechanism, you can find support information on the University’s mental wellbeing webpage. SAMHS is a great service for students to explore a broad range of psychological support needs in a single triage appointment.

You might also wish to speak to the Student Advice Centre or your Students´ Union Welfare Officer

Support in Sheffield

Drugs and Alcohol Coordination Team (DACT) are specialist practitioners for alcohol, drugs or smoking that offer one-off advice and ongoing support in Sheffield. Their helpline is 0114 305 0500.

Here are some other helpful websites that offer insightful information and advice on substance abuse:

Worried about someone else?

If you are worried about the health or wellbeing of a student at TUOS, you should contact Central Welfare and Guidance on 0114 222 4321 or via email at .

If you live in University accommodation, please contact Residence Life by emailing about any concerns. You could also speak to your Residence Life Mentor. Mentors are available via Customer Services, and via Drop-In sessions every evening during term time. 

If you are concerned about an issue or incident relating to drugs such as drug dealers on the accommodation sites, please contact the University´s Security Services on 0114 222 4085 or via email at

Finally, Adfam support those affected by family members’ substance abuse.

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