The Reality Of Experimenting With Drugs at University

(Published in my student newspaper Flex, on Page 9, and on The National Student.)

As September’s Hollyoaks focuses on a group of Freshers and the effects that drugs can have, what is the reality of experimenting with drugs whilst at university?

A fresh start and, for most, a new home miles away from the towns we grew up in. As a new year at university begins, we will be faced with many challenging situations related to drugs. But we must ask, is the 5-minute buzz really worth it?

Drug use amongst young people is on the increase. The majority of drug related deaths and injuries come from a lack of understanding of the effects and what to do if something goes wrong. But nobody can simply say, “Don’t take drugs!” and expect a response, especially at a university age when the chance to experiment is now.

Cannabis and cocaine are the most commonly used drugs with both adults and young adults. At some point, the majority of people are going to experiment with them, and many other forms of drugs, to some extent; the question involving drugs at university is more likely to be ‘when?’ rather than ‘if’. All there is to do is to give warning of the negative side of drugs rather than trying, and failing, to put people off them completely – like they did for some medicines (e.g. for the side effects of Xarelto); when there is an understanding of the effects, there is an understanding of the risk.

The storyline of Hollyoaks focused on a new cast of Freshers for a week as they settled into university halls and were faced with the issues and effects around the use of cocaine. Whilst only one character gave into temptation, the consequence of her falling off a building and ending up in hospital should have been enough to show how serious the effects can be.

However, the cast remained completely oblivious to their friend’s near death experience from experimenting with drugs. It’s commonly believed that you can experiment with drugs as much as you like and not have to deal with any of the consequences. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case in reality.

It’s only when you experience the effects of drugs first hand that you realise the seriousness of what they can do, either from being in a distressing situation yourself or witnessing somebody close to you dabble too much with what started out as a bit of fun. You will be made to think twice about whether the risk is worth it.

Telling people not to take drugs is a waste of time, but you must have an understanding of what you are doing before you think, “Fuck it.” Know what you are taking and know the effects of what you are taking, both the highs and the lows. They may make the night that little bit more eventful, but not knowing what you are doing isn’t always a good thing.

One thought on “The Reality Of Experimenting With Drugs at University

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  1. My big turn-off in university/post-highschool was a few friends who became idiots when they were on something. Granted, back then and in my somewhat sheltered little world, drugs weren’t all that prevalent …but the role your friends play was probably as important then as it is today.

    I agree too that simply saying ‘NO’ is almost a slap in the face to a young adult. You may as well be daring them to do it.


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