Is there a safe way to do drugs?

University of Leeds
3 min readJun 6, 2024


It’s no secret that some students will choose to take drugs while at university. While the only way to stay safe around drugs is to go without, if you or your mates decide to do drugs, there are steps you can take to reduce the risks.

Do your homework

Find out as much as you can about a drug before you take it, so you know about the effects, common risks, how long it takes to work, and what it feels like. Online resources like FRANK and Drugs and Me have free information about different drugs.

Test first

Your dealer might say they’re selling you MDMA, cocaine, or ketamine, but there’s no way to know what’s really in the bag without getting it tested. You can pick up a free drug testing kit, no questions asked, from the Advice office in LUU.

Start low and go slow

Whether it’s your first time trying a drug or not, start with a small amount first to see how you react to it. You should always give yourself time (at least 2 hours) before taking any more.

Avoid mixing

Mixing drugs with other drugs or alcohol can be dangerous because it’s difficult to predict how different substances will interact with each other. Stick to one drug and take small sips of water to stay hydrated.

Watch for warning signs

Try to be around friends you trust in a safe environment and make sure the people you’re with know what you’ve taken. If someone is having a bad time on drugs they may be:

  • anxious
  • panicky
  • overheated and dehydrated
  • drowsy
  • having difficulty breathing

If you or a friend have taken drugs and feel unwell, get help.

  • On campus: contact the University Security Services. They’re available 24/7 and work with other emergency services to get you help quickly.
  • Off campus: contact the emergency services at 999.

FRANK also has a helpful guide on what to do in an emergency.

Get free help and advice

If you’ve got questions about drugs, want help for yourself, or are worried about a friend’s drug use, there are plenty of places to get confidential, judgement-free advice and support.

  • Forward Leeds, our local alcohol and drug support service, have loads of online resources and info. They’re also on campus every week in LUU for drop-in appointments where you can ask questions and get advice. Find out more about Forward Leeds drop-in appointments.
  • The Student Counselling and Wellbeing team offer free, confidential support to all students at Leeds. The service has experienced Counsellors, Wellbeing Practitioners and Mental Health Advisors who are trained to help with lots of things, including drinking and drug use.
  • LUU Help and Support are a confidential service, independent from the University. They offer advice to students and can help you navigate things like substance abuse and addictions support. LUU Help and Support often work with University services like Student Counselling and Wellbeing too.
  • Residence Life Wardens can help if you live in University accommodation and feel like you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol. You won’t get into trouble for talking to them — they’ll connect you to support and respect your confidentiality.

Be mindful of others

Be mindful of your friends, housemates, and neighbours who might not feel comfortable if you’re taking drugs. And if you’re on a course with a professional accreditation, be aware that many partner organisations (like the NHS) have conduct requirements around drugs and alcohol.

Find out more about our harm reduction approach to drugs and alcohol at the University of Leeds.