16,000 students took our drugs survey. Find out how and what they’re taking this term

The main reason students cited for taking drugs this year? ‘Boredom’

In a survey of over 16,000 uni students across the country, from 14 different UK universities, it’s clear that drug use is still prevalent at uni despite national lockdowns, rules of six and tier systems aplenty.

The Tab’s 2020 Drugs Survey, which was answered by students at Bristol, UCL, Warwick, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Belfast, Durham, Southampton, Sussex, Exeter, St Andrews, Birmingham, Lincoln and Glasgow, had 16,017 respondents in total.

We asked students about their drug of choice, whether they have been taking more drugs since the pandemic and the emotional reasons behind their drug use.

In the survey, students generally deny that they have individually been doing more drugs since the pandemic started. In fact, only 33 per cent of students said they were doing drugs more often. However, when presented with the same question phrased about other students, “do you think students are doing more drugs since the pandemic?”, students answered overwhelmingly yes. 55 per cent of students, 8,757 respondents, believe students are doing more drugs since the pandemic started.

Data via The Tab’s 2020 Drugs Survey

As for which drugs they’re doing, weed takes the cake, unsurprisingly. Out of the following options – weed, ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, Xanax, nitrous oxide, speed and hallucinogenics – 44 per cent of students (6,908 respondents) said they used weed most often. The next most popular drug is cocaine, with 1,959 votes, followed by nitrous oxide (nos/laughing gas) with 1,905, ketamine with 1,842, and then hallucinogenics with 1,163. The least popular drugs are speed and Xanax with just 495 and 576 votes respectively.

Data via The Tab’s 2020 Drugs Survey

And when asked why they’re choosing to do drugs, the answer was obvious. Boredom. The “boredom or distraction” option of the answer set triumphed above the other two options (“relaxation or self medication” and “because others are” i.e peer pressure) with 44 per cent of students picking this as their reasoning. “Relaxation or self medication” followed with 37.5 per cent of students picking this option, but “because others are” was the least popular, with only 17 per cent of students admitting to peer pressure behind their drug use.

Data via The Tab’s 2020 Drugs Survey

This follows advice from drug testing experts warning students of the dangers of “stay at home seshing”, with uni students less likely to get help or trained first aid now they’re taking drugs almost exclusively inside their student houses. Experts advise students to research symptoms of an overdose for the drug they are taking and look out for their friends in lieu of actually testing the drugs they’re ingesting. Universities with zero-tolerance policies advise students not to take drugs at all, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

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