Current UK government guidelines suggest that women shouldn’t drink more than 2-3 units per day (one pint of beer), and men shouldn’t have more than 3-4 units per day (one and a half pints of beer). Regularly exceeding this can lead to short and long term, potentially serious, health risks.
If you do decide that your night out is going to involve drinking rather more than the recommended limit, that’s totally your choice, but it’s really important to make sure that you remain safe, aware of your surroundings and able to get yourself home. Don’t get pressured into drinking more than you want to (if you really can’t bring yourself to say no, buy the drink yourself and order yourself a soft drink which you can claim has a spirit in it if you want to). Slow down if you need to and order a soft drink or a water for one round, eat something, step outside for a moment or call it a night if you’ve really had enough. Nobody wants an amazing night out to end in injury, rows with friends or trouble with the Police.
If you’re pregnant, or on certain medications, you’ll likely be advised to try to cut your alcohol consumption entirely. There’s lots of information about units, alcohol consumption and related issues available at Drinkaware.
Alcohol spiking is currently the most common type, where alcohol is added to supposedly soft drinks or extra shots are added to supposed singles. If you’re suspicious in any way about what you’ve been drinking, especially if someone bought it for you while you weren’t with them (a lot of cases of alcohol spiking are actually meant as a prank so it's not always just strangers who are responsible for drink spiking), stop drinking it and if you feel unwell, seek help from someone you can trust, such as a Police officer, friend, family member or member of staff at the venue you’re in.
While you might be able to taste that there’s more alcohol than you were expecting in your drink, most of the drugs used for drink spiking have no real smell or taste. The drugs used for drink spiking typically take less than half an hour to start affecting you. Their symptoms can last for anywhere between several hours and a few days. Common symptoms of drink spiking with drugs include memory loss, sickness, headaches, fever, lowered inhibitions, blurred vision, confusion and difficulty speaking, concentrating and balancing, or simply just feeling more drunk than you should be. If you do suspect your drink has been spiked, alert a friend, family member, the Police, medical professional, bar staff or security staff immediately. At A & E you can be tested for the most common ‘date rape drugs’. Most of these drugs leave the system very quickly, so while it’s worth going to visit your doctor the next morning if you suspect your drink was spiked the night before for a check-up and to discuss any concerns you have, it’s really unlikely that they’d be able to tell you for sure whether your drink had been spiked or not if you’ve waited until then to go. If you suspect you were spiked, or hospital tests confirm that this has happened, reporting it to the venue you were in could help catch the person who did it to you or help the staff improve safety to prevent anything similar happening again. You can always report your experience anonymously if you’d rather not give your name but would like to alert the venue.
Substances sold as ‘plant fertilisers’ or ‘incense’ which are actually intended for use in place of illegal drugs such as cocaine are not safe and are always even legal. Possessing or dealing some of these substances can lead to criminal convictions, fines and imprisonment. More and more legal highs are being made illegal and increasing research is continuing to flag up potential negative health implications of consuming these substances. The contents of the products can vary even within the same brand, and they can cause physical and mental health side effects and even death. They can also be highly addictive.
As with anything else, it’s your choice whether or not you decide to try any substance, but we’d like you to remember that if it’s marked up as ‘not fit for human consumption’, that’s because it’s not fit for human consumption. As with any of the illegal drugs, coming into contact with legal highs puts you at risk of serious physical, mental health and legal consequences.
Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug, but usage in the UK is falling. Its current Class B status could mean that having it in your possession could lead to a 5 year prison sentence and supplying it to others, even friends, a 14 year sentence. It can make you feel relaxed, happy and more aware of your senses - or it can cause frightening hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia and a feeling of panic. It’s also very dangerous to anyone with an underlying psychotic illness and has been proven to cause long term damage on young, developing brains. Additionally, it’s hard to tell how strong the batch you have is, or what it might have be cut with and how this might affect you. Using/dealing cannabis on campus can have a very serious impact on your registration and could lead to your being asked to leave halls if you’re found with it in your possession in your Halls room.
Drink driving has massively decreased in England and Wales over the past 30 years, but still, each year drunk drivers cause fatalities. There’s really no excuse for these deaths- they’re 100% avoidable. In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Anything over this could not only result in you having a nasty accident but could also lead to a 12 month driving ban and a fine of up to £5000, three to 11 penalty points and a prison term of up to six months. It’s hard to say how much each person can drink on each given day to remain under this limit so it’s a good idea to avoid having a drink at all if you’re planning to be driving everyone home. For more information, see Drinkaware.
Since March 2015, it’s been illegal to drive with 17 drugs in your system. The list includes cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine, as well as some prescription medications. Getting caught driving with these substances in your blood could result in a 12 month driving ban, fine, 6 month prison sentence and a criminal record, which could prevent you entering into countries such as the United States. More information is available on the government's website.
If you’re concerned that your usage of alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise), might be getting out of your control or having a negative impact on you, there are plenty of places you can go for assistance, even if all you need is reassurance.
Good ways to know that it might be time to speak with someone are:
-when you feel like you can’t get out of bed or progress normally through your day without alcohol/the drug
-when you’re frequently doing things that are out of character after consuming the alcohol/drug or in order to get more of the alcohol/drug
-when you feel guilty or like you need to hide your alcohol/drug usage
-when friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances or healthcare professionals start to comment on your usage
-when things that previously really interested you start to feel less important than alcohol/drugs
-when you’re feeling generally low or out of control most or all of the time
The Advice and Support Centre can provide confidential support if you’d like to talk about any worries you have and direct you to other services if necessary. Other good places to look for information, support or advice are: Surrey Alcohol & Drug Advisory Service on 01483 950 150, Alcohol Concern for information and advice on alcohol FRANK or free on 0800 77 66 00 for information and support about drugs It’s very important to seek medical advice if you’ve become dependent on any substance and wish to stop using it as it can be very dangerous to stop using some substances (such as alcohol) abruptly.
Here are our top 10 tips
Sometimes a person’s attitude towards food can become abnormal, leaving them overly concerned with their weight, food or eating habits or using food as a form of comfort. This can affect anyone- male or female, old or young and there’s no shame in it. At the same time, any sort of obsession or anxiety about food and the feelings surrounding it could lead to becoming really unwell and have a very negative impact on your life.
Some key things to look out for are:
-Thinking/talking about food, weight or calories far more than others
-particular concerns about food groups or certain foods
-eating in secret/away from others or lying about food consumed
-having lots of rituals around eating
-dramatic, rapid weight change, or desire to make this happen
-perception of being ‘too fat’ despite the assurance from others that this is not true
-viewing food or dieting as a way of controlling life and feelings, not just physical size or associating weight loss with the only path to happiness/self worth
If you or a friend are experiencing any worry about food, the Advice and Support Centre can signpost you to the best help. There’s also loads more information and support from B-eat.
If you’re sexually active, a barrier contraception such as a condom or dental dam is the only effective protection against STIs. Even these will not always prevent the spread of genital herpes, so it’s important to speak to a doctor about protecting future partners if you find you’re suffering from genital herpes. Contraceptive Pills, the Coil, the implant and other options are great for preventing pregnancy, but can’t stop partners from passing STIs on. Not everyone who has an STI will have visible symptoms, so if your partner has slept with anyone other than you since their last STI test, you’re putting yourself at risk of catching potentially life-altering illnesses.
The Advice and Support Centre and the Health Centre stock these year round. They’re available just inside our waiting room and you don’t need to ask to take one. The instructions for usage are inside, but if you’ve got any questions, let us know.
The Advice and Support Centre stocks these items year round. Dental dams and condoms can be found in our waiting room- take as many as you like! If you’ve got any questions about using them, please feel free to ask us.
The Advice and Support Centre are happy to talk through any worries, concerns, questions or curiosities you might have. The Health Centre can help if you’re in need of family planning (contraception), or treatment and testing for illnesses STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia (GUM clinic). You can contact them on 01784 443131 to make an appointment. If you’ve got a problem out of hours, you can call 01753 865773 (let them know that you’re with Dr Denny and Partners, Clarence Medical, RHUL), call 111, or 999 if your problem is an emergency that requires an ambulance or visit your nearest Accident and Emergency department if your problem is very urgent and can’t wait for a GP appointment.
Sex, relationships and contraception are not things you need to feel embarrassed or shy about- the chances are that whether you speak to a medical professional, or staff in the Advice and Support Centre we’ve heard your query from someone else before!
Any unwanted sexual attention, whether it's words or actions, is sexual harassment.The Students Union takes any allegation of sexual harassment seriously and you are encouraged to report any unwanted sexual behaviours to staff if you experience them on a night out in the SU.
While it might just seem like 'banter' to some, behaviour which makes you feel uncomfortable or afraid is never acceptable and we'd encourage you to speak out. Equally, if anyone tells you that your behaviour is inappropriate, try to consider how your actions may appear to someone who doesn't know you.
You can always report any incident of sexual harassment to staff in the SU on a night out here, or to Support and Advisory Services at the College if you experience sexual harassment on College grounds. If you feel any member of your department is behaving inappropriately towards you, the Advice and Support Centre can offer a confidential service and help you work out what steps, if any, you'd like to take next.
Unfortunately, there may come a time in your university experience that, for whatever reason, you need to seek legal help. We can advise you on your legal rights and/or organise a free appointment on campus during the autumn and spring terms with a solicitor from W H Matthews & Co Solicitors (Staines).
To arrange your free appointment on campus during the autumn or spring term please get in touch through the message box above or call 01784 276700.
For more information about W H Matthews & Co Solicitors please visit or to book an appointment at their offices in Staines please contact them directly on 01784 453154-5, but please be aware that any such appointment will not be free of charge.
Alternatively you could try any of the following:
Civil Legal Advice Helpline is a free, independent and confidential government funded advice service for such things as debt, housing, benefits and tax credits, employment or education law. Call the helpline on 0845 345 4345 or visit
The Citizens Advice Bureau CAB) helps people resolve their legal, money and other problems by providing free information and advice. The closest CAB offices are:
Egham Citizens Advice Bureau
Manor Farm Day Centre
Manor Farm Lane, Egham, TW20 9HR
Appointments only: 01932 827187
Runnymede & Spelthorne Citizens Advice Bureau
Civic Offices, Station Road,
Addlestone KT15 2AH
Advice: 01932 842666
Appointments: 01932 827187
Staines Citizens Advice Bureau
Community Link, Knowle Green,
Staines, TW18 1XA
Registered charity no: 1141998
The Students’ Union, Royal Holloway
Egham, TW20 0EX