Discover the importance of drug awareness and education and how this can take place, with examples from universities and students' unions.
Having engaging and informative resources on drugs available to distribute is important within drug awareness and education, in order to reach large numbers of students and increase the opportunities for them to be exposed to the information, enabling them to make informed choices around drug use.
The universities and students’ unions that we work with regularly create their own resources in this regard, see examples below.
UWE (Bristol) and The Students' Union at UWE:
• Produced and shared several informative videos within their ‘Let’s Talk About Drugs Campaign’. These included videos focused on specific drugs, such as cocaine and ketamine, with references throughout to support available and where to get drugs tested.
Let's Talk About Drugs (Ketamine): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROHmjq3vG-Y
• Have alcohol and drug information, including support options, available on their website: https://tinyurl.com/mtp53jv7
• Share information and resources regarding drug awareness and education on their social media channels. Additionally, they also share relevant events on their social media channels, for example they have shared information regarding their monthly Drug Awareness sessions (to provide students with appropriate information to make informed choices around drugs) that take place across campus.
• The students' union produce and share blog posts throughout the year, with a focus on wellbeing, some of these are regarding drug use. For example, their drug use in lockdown blog post https://tinyurl.com/yeym8t9m
• Have a Community module for new and returning students that they complete within their starting block. This module covers contributing to the community and behaviour expectations. However, there is also a focus on staying safe while having fun, consisting of information regarding myths around students and drugs, tips to stay safe and look after both oneself and others. The impact of drugs on the individual and those around them, along with many aspects of their life, is also covered. Additionally, information regarding where students can seek support is provided, along with harm reduction approaches for drugs (and alcohol).
• On the students' union website, there is an informative harm reduction drugs page (https://tinyurl.com/2p9yhvyn). This includes information and videos on drugs, including their 'Let's Talk About Drugs' videos, along with information around drug testing, mixing drugs with alcohol, in addition to support and advice.
University of Leeds and Leeds University Union:
• Have ensured that students have drug harm reduction information available, they have such accessible via their students' union website.
• Have made information regarding both internal and external support available to students for drug use and concerns, along with harm reduction advice, resources to learn more about drug use, including the physiological and psychological effects of drugs, how to avoid overdosing, and which drugs may create a negative experience when mixed with alcohol.
• On their Drug Harm Reduction webpage, they have a link to Forward Leeds (an external service providing free alcohol and drug support).
Keele University and Keele Students' Union
• Offers drug harm reduction information to students.
• Within the wellbeing section of their students' union website, non-judgemental and realistic information regarding drug use and the impacts of drugs on the user is accessible. There is also information about the support options available, with links to internal and external support, in addition to further information, such as a link to the Drugs & Me and Talk to Frank websites.
• On the students' union website, under Harm Reduction Campaign, students can find non-judgemental and realistic information regarding drugs and the impact of such, including potential physical and psychological impacts. For each drug listed, there is information regarding how it is taken, how it can make a person feel and behave, the duration of the effects, the risks, mixing, addiction and the law regarding that drug.
At SOS-UK, we also produce and send a variety of resources to the universities and students' unions that we work with.
These are available for them to use. They are most often associated with and in time for key events throughout the academic year, such as the Freshers/Welcome period. These resources include, but are not limited to, posters and videos.
In the 2022 academic year, our resources included posters for Mental Health Awareness Week, graphics such as '5 areas for self-care' which is suitable for social media posts, along with posters for the Freshers/Welcome period ('busting the myths about alcohol and drugs', 'ways to make friends at university without getting drunk').