At university, it can feel like there’s a completely different set of standards that our actions are held to. I have particularly found this to be true regarding drugs and alcohol at university.
For example, in few scenarios in life would it be acceptable to turn up consistently hungover to the first few weeks of a new job, as it is to lectures during freshers’. Sometimes, university normalises behaviour that isn’t necessarily healthy in the long run. For some, this can reach a point where they need to seek some help.
I am not trying to tell people to avoid drinking or taking drugs – that’s pointless. Instead, I wanted to provide a list of just some of the local and national services available for people reading this thinking that you, or someone close, might have a troubled relationship with alcohol or drugs.
No Limits – 02380 224224; advice centre open Monday-Saturday at 13 High Street, Southampton, SO14 2DF.
A local organisation working specifically to help people under 25, providing support with everything from mental health to homelessness, No Limits have a specific drug and alcohol support service called DASH.
As well as advice, support and counselling, DASH offers therapeutic groups with activities like cooking to help young people tackle substance abuse. DASH also operates a needle exchange for under 25’s to try to reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases and infections caused by reusing or sharing needles.
Change, Grow, Live – 02380 717171; The Carronades, 2 New Rd, Southampton SO14 0AA.
Another voluntary sector local organisation, Change, Grow, Live specialise in helping those affected by substance abuse, particularly young people and families. Their website offers self-assessment forms for people who think they might have drug or alcohol problems, useful as a first step towards getting help.
Change, Grow, Live also provide advice on how to support friends and family who have substance problems and information on the types of diseases transmittable via drug use. Their website testimonials are really heart-warming and demonstrate the service they provide in Southampton.
Talk to Frank is a website which provides comprehensive information and advice about drugs from a harm reduction standpoint. Information can be found here about a very wide range of drugs including their side effects, serious dangers and interactions with other medication. If you’re going to take drugs, regardless of whether you think you have a problem with them, it’s crucial to research and educate yourself on the potential risks. Talk to Frank is perfect for that.
Additionally, their website has a live chat feature alongside email, text and phone-line support, where you can ask more specific questions or seek help for substance abuse, including emergency help.
If you think you have an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol in particular, your GP should be your first point of call. They can advise or refer you to other services and make the NHS advice and support available. Your GP has to treat everything you say with strict confidentiality. You also never need to tell the receptionist what you’re making an appointment for, even if they ask.
Drinkline – 0300 1231110.
This is an alcohol-specific support line which is free and can provide you with guidance and support. Because it’s anonymous and over the phone, Drinkline could be a really accessible first step if you’re worried about your own relationship with alcohol or a friend’s.
It’s really important sometimes to take a step back and consider whether your relationship with drugs and alcohol is a healthy one. Given the pressure on students socially and academically, it’s unsurprising that many experience substance abuse. However, ALL of the services listed here are confidential, so you shouldn’t feel worried or ashamed about seeking support – the most important thing is looking after your health.