Students, Alcohol and Drugs National Survey 2022-23

Students, Alcohol and Drugs National Survey 2022-23

Following on from our ongoing Students and Alcohol survey and last year’s Students and Drugs survey, this 2022-23 Students, Alcohol and Drugs national survey is part of research completed as part of the Alcohol Impact and Drug and Alcohol Impact programmes. The programme is a whole-institution approach and embeds the social norms of responsible drinking on our higher education campuses. It refocuses the conversation on drugs to be about reducing harm, and building healthier, safer, more productive student communities. This involves action by local partnerships of students’ unions, universities and community organisations. The programme includes this annual ‘Students, Alcohol and Drugs’ survey, designed to identify students’ relationships with alcohol and drugs at institutions that take part in the programme and also UK students more widely. Additionally, it provides a means to understand changes in attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol and drugs.

A total of 931 responses were achieved in 2022-23 through promotion of the survey locally by universities and students’ unions. The survey was promoted by universities and students’ unions participating in the Drug and Alcohol Impact and Alcohol Impact programmes however the survey was also promoted by NUS to students in the TOTUM database.

The research covers the following issues:

  • Patterns and practices of alcohol consumption/student drug use
  • Perceptions of alcohol consumption/student drug use on campus
  • Non-drinkers/drug users
  • Impacts of alcohol consumption/drug use
  • Reducing impact through responsible consumption/drug advice, support and university drug policy

Key findings include:

  • Respondents' perceptions of student drug use prior to starting university is slightly higher once they become a student, but overestimates reported use
  • Top reasons behind drug use are: recreation (56%), to enhance social interactions (24%), to escape reality (19%)
  • Cannabis is the most frequently reported drug used by respondents who currently use or have previously used drugs as a student
  • 44% don't know if their university has a drug policy
  • 40% feel confident that if they turned to their university for support with drug use that it would be dealt with appropriately
  • 43% say that their university/college should not be punishing students who take drugs
  • Impacts of drug use:

21% missed a lecture/seminar/class

For 25%, it has improved a mental health condition, but for 14% it has made a condition worse

36% say that it has helped them to make new friends

17% took risks with their personal safety that they would not have otherwise

Find the full report here