alcohol & drugs

In the college or university environment, especially when you’re living with friends, you might be tempted to experiment with drugs or over indulge with alcohol.

It’s easy to start to drink more heavily when you’re free of the constraints of life in the family home. It’s rare that young people become dependent upon alcohol, but binge drinking can become a serious problem for you, for your studies and for your relationships.

What’s your alcohol level?
There are roughly four levels of alcohol drinking - social, heavy, problem and dependent. As a rule, each level increases the risk to your health and safety. The two levels that are most common amongst students are:

Social drinking
Most students drink some alcohol. However, even a small amount of alcohol can be dangerous if you drive, or take some types of medication.

Heavy (Binge) drinking
This is drinking above the recommended safe limits and taking advantage of too many of those midweek student club night drink promotions.

  • Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week, no more than four units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

  • Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, no more than three units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week.


One unit of alcohol is roughly equivalent to half a pint of normal strength beer, or a small glass of wine, or one pub measure of spirits. It easily adds up, doesn't it?

Why the Unit Limits?
It’s all to do with your liver. This little organ is responsible for the processing of alcohol and it can only cope with so much at a time. Binge drinking pumps more alcohol into your body than the liver can process and, when regularly repeated, this form of drinking can damage liver cells and produce toxic chemicals. When this happens you increase your risk of developing diseases such as cirrhosis (liver damage), damage to the pancreas, certain cancers, heart problems, sexual problems, and other conditions. In general, the more you drink the greater the risk.

Self-help
Some people are helped by books, websites, leaflets and their own determination. It is thought that about 1 in 3 people who have a problem with alcohol return to sensible drinking, or stop drinking, without any professional help.

Manage your drinking
Most people are able to return to sensible drinking levels by themselves and sometimes with the help of websites and literature. However, sometimes individuals feel that talking to a counsellor is a helpful way to discuss their drinking habits and begin to manage it. Trained counsellors can help you to talk through the issues in more detail and help you to plan how to control your levels of drinking.