New programme - Drug and Alcohol Impact

June 12, 2020
New programme - Drug and Alcohol Impact

Following on from the success of our Alcohol Impact programme running since 2014 in 30 students unions in partnership with the universities, Drug and Alcohol Impact is our whole-institution strategic framework designed not only to embed responsible drinking on our campuses but also develop drug harm reduction policies and interventions to reduce the negative outcomes of student drug use.


The programme takes a social change theory approach to reduce harms associated with drug use, tackle binge drinking, increase education and awareness of substance use, improve academic achievement, create more inclusive spaces, and enhance the student experience.


Research has shown:

  • 56% of students report having used drugs, with 39% reporting current use1.
  • 86% of these students reported using drugs in the home or student residences1.
  • 31% of students report that they used drugs to help deal with stress1.
  • 53% of prospective university students believe students get drunk most of the time2.
  • 31% of students report missing a seminar, lecture or class due to drinking alcohol2.
  • 45% of students report taking risks with their personal safety after drinking2.

In the past five years, Alcohol Impact has achieved a decrease in student exclusions from campus venues due to irresponsible drinking, a reduction in anti-social behaviour complaints from the local community and a reduction in the number of students pre-drinking regularly in halls of residence. Drug and Alcohol Impact now aims to engage five partnerships in a two-year pilot to extend these positive results to tackle harms associated with drug use.


This new programme will build on successful methods implemented through Alcohol Impact, for instance, training residential advisors, bar staff and welfare staff, opening up non-alcohol focused social spaces into the evening and communications to students.


The programme will be shaped by the leadership and input of the five pilot partnerships alongside an advisory group of experts including representatives from Public Health England, Universities UK, Release, AMOSSHE and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.


What does the programme offer?

  • A nationally recognised scheme that promotes drug and alcohol harm reduction in students.
  • Resources and practical guidance for use by universities and students� unions to help develop student/campus-specific drug and alcohol harm reduction policies and action plans.
  • An institution-wide approach to drug and alcohol harm reduction by joining the university and the students� union in partnership.
  • Achievable drug and alcohol harm reduction actions.
  • Research, both nationally and locally, into the use of drugs and alcohol in students.
  • Methods which monitor and evaluate the success of new interventions, helping the sector to learn what is most effective.

The pilot, which will take place over two years, provides universities and students unions with the opportunity to be at the forefront of drug harm reduction and help shape the future of this crucial welfare issue.


For more information on the pilot or to register your interest please contact


1Taking the Hit, NUS and Release

2NUS Students and Alcohol national survey 2018 - 2019