Every September the residence halls of UK universities fill up with freshers getting their first taste of freedom. They are living away from home for the first time, experiencing all of the things that come with adult life. Unfortunately, some of them succumb to drug use.

Drug experimentation is fairly common in universities. It may start with legal drugs that can be used to enhance one’s performance – substances also known as ‘study drugs’ – or perhaps a little cannabis here and there. Yet it does not take much for drug experimentation to lead to drug abuse and eventual addiction. We want you to know that drug experimentation does not have to be part of leaving home. You can enjoy university life without taking drugs.

Reasons for Using Drugs

If you or any of your friends are experimenting with drugs after leaving home, we want to challenge you to ask yourself why. Research over the years suggests there are several reasons students try drugs:

  • Anxiety – University life can be filled with fear and anxiety. Some students will experiment with drugs as a way to relieve the stress. A little cannabis on the weekend or a pill or two during the week makes them feel as if they can cope much better. 
  • Curiosity – It is interesting how curiosity can cause us to do things we would otherwise avoid – including taking drugs. However, never forget the old adage that says ‘curiosity killed the cat’. 
  • Peer Pressure – One of the strongest motivators for drug experimentation is peer pressure. As you know, no one likes to be left out of the crowd. If everyone else is smoking or taking pills, you are likely to feel pressure to do the same. 
  • Obligation – Some students experiment with drugs because they are holding on to a mistaken belief that it is an obligation of adult life. In order to transition from childhood, they believe drug and/or alcohol use is culturally mandatory. 

When you step back and look at these four reasons from the perspective of sobriety, none of them is valid. Take anxiety, for example. You may start experimenting with drugs as a way to relax and deal with the stress of university. Nevertheless, what do you suppose will happen if you end up becoming an addict? Any anxiety you feel now will be multiplied many times over by substance abuse. That is just the reality of using drugs.

There are healthier and more productive ways to deal with university stress. As for curiosity, peer pressure, and obligation, those are nothing more than societal pressures put on us by our culture. You have the freedom and right to stand up and say ‘no’. Doing so is the best decision you could ever make where drugs are concerned.

We Can Help

We sincerely hope you have not started experimenting with drugs since leaving home for the first time. No good can come from it. Nonetheless, if you have, and you find yourself struggling, we want to help. Addiction Helper is an independent organisation offering free evaluations, advice and treatment referrals throughout the UK.

We are not here to lecture you or tell you we do not agree with your lifestyle choices. We are not here to challenge your integrity or your upbringing. We are only here to help you get the treatment you need to overcome a substance abuse or addiction problem. All of our services are free and completely confidential. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by calling our 24-hour addiction recovery helpline. Inform yourself about students and addiction problems from our student addiction guide.

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