Drugs and Alcohol
In an emergency always call 999.
Once you have called 999, make sure the person's airways aren't blocked, if they are unable to stay upright make sure that their airways are clear so they do not choke on their own vomit by putting them in the recovery position; and check they haven't swallowed their tongue.
Don't let them fall asleep without someone there to check they do not deteriorate in their sleep.
Don't let them leave or walk alone.
Don't let them drive - take their car keys if possible.
The signs of alcohol poisoning are:
- Severely slurred speech
- Loss of co-ordination
- Irregular or slow breathing
- Hypothermia (pale or blue-tinged skin caused by low body temperature)
- Supor (being conscious but unresponsive)
- Passing out and being unconscious
If you have taken drugs, it is an emergency if any of these symptoms occur;
- Sudden tiredness
- Cramps and aching arms and legs
It is advised that men and women can have up to 14 units per week, but it is best not to save them up but to spread them evenly throughout the week. You can work out units per drink here in order to plan your units accordingly and be aware of what you are drinking and when to stop, it is also best to make informed choices about what you are drinking and opt for those with less units per drink.
Drink spiking is where alcohol or drugs are added to someone's drink without them knowing. Sometimes this can be for malicious reasons, such as the date rape drug before a sexual assault, so it is important to take this seriously and be aware of the danger.
Unfortunately, you are unlikely to be able to detect the spiking through taste or smell. Warning signs include:
- Lowered awareness
- Difficulty concentrating or speaking
- Loss of balance and finding it hard to move
- Visual problems, particularly blurred vision
- Memory loss
- Feeling confused or disorientated, particularly after waking up
- Paranoia or anxiety
- Hallucinations or having an "out of body" experience
- Nausea and vomiting
If you are worried yours, or a friend’s, drink has been spiked then it is important that you act. Bar security are usually a good person to go to, if you are not at a bar then the police can also help. If you feel able to, or a friend does, getting yourself to a hospital is also a good action to take. Do not take any help from a stranger, unless they are security, medicallly trained (such as a paramedic) or police and stick with your friends.
You can reduce your risk of being spiked by buying your own drinks or accompanying someone who is buying your drink and taking it straight from the bar, not leaving your drinks unattended, and keeping an eye on your friends. If a drink has already had the seal broken, for example a slightly cracked open can, do not drink it! If you are at a house party, it is safer to bring your own drinks and avoid anything open (such as a pimms jug) that is there to be shared.
If you are worried an assault has taken place, it is best to report it to the police asap. If you believe the assualt to have been physical in nature (e.g. sexual assault) get medical attention as soon as possible.
You don't have to report an attack to the police immediately if you don't want to.
You can contact any of the following places for advice, treatment or referral to a specialist service (such as a forensic examination):
Any forensic evidence that's obtained during tests can be stored while you decide whether to report the attack to the police.
If you find yourself unable to stop drinking or find that it is increasingly becoming a coping mechanism or something that you can’t seem to go without or stop thinking about you may be struggling with alcohol dependency. Alcohol abuse can affect your health, physically and psychologically, as well as impacting your academic attainment and your ability to live a healthy social life. If you are worried about your levels of alcohol consumption, take the Drink Aware self-assessment to find out whether your drinking levels and behaviours are likely to be harmful. If you are worried about yourself, or a loved one, the first person to contact for help is your GP. They can then refer you onto the correct treatment for you.
If you want to know more about drugs and the law in the UK, release is the website to go to.
In an emergency do not worry about the law or any consequences it may have and call 999! They will be able to offer confidential advice and help, and a life is more important.
University is often seen as time to experiment and try new things, and it is possible that during your time at university you will come across the use of drugs recreationally. The only safe way to take recreational drugs is to not take them at all, but if you do decide to take them anyway then it is better to be informed. Visit Frank to make yourself aware of the drugs you are planning on, or are, taking so you know what to look out for in a medical emergency.
Plan to reduce risk! Drink plenty of fluids, eat properly and never take drugs alone.
It may be worth writing what you have taken on your hand so if a medical emergency occurs, you can be helped quickly.
Make sure you have phone battery and money for emergencies.
Watch your dosage! If you are trying something new, or something you haven’t used in a long time start small.
Make sure that any equipment you are using is clean to reduce the risk of infection.
If you are feeling anxious, low or suicidal drugs can make you feel worse- do not take them and reach out for help instead: See our wellbeing advice for help.
Before taking pills, check websites such as www.pillreports.net for reports of dodgy substances.
Injecting is the most dangerous way of taking drugs, so avoid this at all costs if possible. But if you do choose to inject remember always use a clean needle and clean your skin, always inject yourself, do not let anyone inject you! And make sure you inject in the direction of your heart, never share needles as this can increase the risk of infection. Use citric acid (vit c) rather than lemon or vinegar, it’s much safer!
If you, or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction, you are entitled to free and confidential help on the NHS. To access this help, the GP is the first person to consider reaching out to, however if you do not feel comfortable talking to your GP about this, you can refer yourself or a consenting loved one to a treatment centre directly.
Turning point offer a range of services, including detox, residential rehab, supported living, aftercare and support for those affected.
Iceni can offer support through a huge range of therapies. They work not only with those in the midst of addiction, but with their families too, and help rebuild relationships and support you with current issues and future planning to give you what you need to move forward and live a happy and healthy life with your loved ones.
What to expect after reaching out for help
Your first appointment will be a chance to talk about your drug use and your current situation to get you the appropriate help. You may also be asked for a urine or saliva sample. You will then work with professionals to create a treatment plan and will be assigned a key worker to walk with you through the process. Depending on what it is you need, treatment could look very different but some things to expect are:
Talking therapy.This will give you a chance to get deeper into your thought patterns and help to understand your addiction further, making it easier to manage, and help you to take back control of thought patterns.
Medical Treatment. Sometimes you could be given medication to help you with withdrawals, so you can focus on your treatment.
Detox. Thistype of treatment is done under the care of medical and mental health professionals to help you through the initial and painful stages of detoxing the body of addictive substances. At times, they may provide you with medication to help you through the worst of the symptoms.
Where can I find self help?
Narcotics anonymous is a confidential point of help. You can visit their website or call their helpline on 0300 999 1212 between 10am and midnight.
Frank can provide information and advice on all kinds of drugs, as well as offering a help line you can call at 0300 1236600.
Release offers a 24-hour helpline at 020 7729 9904 offering info, support and advice on drugs and legal issues surrounding drugs.