DRUG SURVEY: Cantabs who take drugs are more likely to get a first

Yes, really.

Cambridge Cambridge University drug drug survey Exams first legalisation weed

In The Tab’s survey, we asked Cantabs about their general experience with drug, how they affected exam grades, and, of course, their funniest / worst experiences. 

Overall, 64% of Cambridge students have tried drugs at least once. 18% of those that had tried drugs never went back after that first time. A majority of drug-taking students only take them socially, with only 17% saying they got high weekly and 6% saying they were daily drug-users.

Students generally saw their experiences as positive, with 61% of those who’d tried drugs describing their experience as “good” and 24% as ‘meh’. Whilst most felt their drug experience was ‘meh’ ‘okay’ or ‘good’, there were some startling responses. In true Cambridge style, one disgruntled respondent was distressed after having smoked weed, because they ‘had to buy more cheese as I ate it all. Thus, not worth the bother’.

Of course, we couldn’t resist the temptation to break down our results by college, year, gender and exam result to generate meaningless correlations between one characteristic and the other (yes, for all you wannabe mathmos, we are aware correlation is not causation. In other news, grass is green). Now we’ve got rid of the Tompkins Table, we’re naturally grasping for another arbitrary way of comparing students.


Queens’ tops the league in this regard. Its students are the most likely to have ever tried drugs – a fact no doubt precipitated by their need to block out the depressing thought that their college is slowly sinking into the Cam. Homerton tops Kings, showing that apparently a large population of education students with time on their hands wins out over wavey garms and a reputation for being #alternative. At the other end of the scale, surprisingly, Petreans were the least likely to have tried drugs, though perhaps that’s because they’re all too busy being seduced by aging fellows in secret all-male dining societies.

[infogram id=”0e50eb63-fd48-430c-8cd7-2a28caa751ab” prefix=”wFf” format=”interactive” title=”Ever done drugs (college)”]

In terms of colleges where students only took drugs socially, Trinity students lived up to every stereotype about fun-hating, awkward mathmos and were the least likely to take drugs socially. Queens’ and Homerton once more came top in the social stakes, proving that, despite all the jokes, it really doesn’t matter how far your college is located from the centre of Cambridge.

[infogram id=”4a25b1ec-01a9-4199-9c5e-2415977c15be” prefix=”IaF” format=”interactive” title=”Social drug-takers”]

In a result that upends all our parents/DOSes/police ever told us about drug usage, Cantabs who took drugs regularly – those who didn’t just try them once – are the most likely to get a first. That’s right: there’s  a small, but unquestionably scientifically significant, correlation between the proportion of regular drug-takers and the grade they got.

[infogram id=”5b01a312-ffe8-40e1-957b-51b29cbfa4a6″ prefix=”xgS” format=”interactive” title=”Grade-regular drug use”]

Weed was, fairly unsurprisingly, the most common drug of choice. Only 36% of all students never having tried it. MDMA was the next most popular, with 40% of students trying it at least once. Despite various reputable news outlets claiming Ket is the “drug of our generation”, it was one of the least popular drugs, with a mere 20% of students deciding that they needed a blast of horse tranquilizer to have fun.

[infogram id=”a7c42b3e-fbb1-424b-b6b4-1e67823c6993″ prefix=”Ohj” format=”interactive” title=”What drug have people tried?”]

With 17% of respondents saying they had taken study drugs specifically, we were curious to see the effects. Some compared them to ‘performance enhancing drugs in sports’, saying that they should ‘accept your inferior skills of self-motivation rather than giving yourself an unfair advantage over the most honest students out there’.

18 hours in here could drive a person mad

These so-called ‘dishonest’ students had varied results, with one saying that ‘Modafinil got me a first’, whereas others found success on revision days, but it ‘kept me up till 5 before my last exam: I got 32%’. Oops. Despite these horror stories, study drugs did work for the majority of those that took them.

[infogram id=”6c844933-a4b1-4ca6-bad8-69471f5474f1″ prefix=”vri” format=”interactive” title=”Study drugs (college)”]

Unsurprisingly, the majority of Cambridge students seemed clever enough not to get caught with drugs, with only 19% of those who’d tried drugs getting caught. Most were caught by either parents or friends but one story (which we seriously hope is true, because it is magnificent) told of a time they were caught using cocaine in Selfridges: ‘shop assistant comes up to me and says – Sir we don’t permit use of illegal substances in our shop. So I said – this is vitamin D powder cuz I have weak bones. She profusely apologised and let me continue.’

Bitter baby boomers moan that this generation is full of liberals: if the results of this survey are anything to go by they are correct. When asked outright, 73% of people wanted weed to be legalised, and the elaboration we received in the comments was overwhelmingly in support of decriminalisation for most drugs.

[infogram id=”5227deb4-31e7-4290-80b6-097f86347587″ prefix=”Mkp” format=”interactive” title=”Legalising Drugs”]

Many answers said the government should ‘encourage education and safe usage’, whilst others offered that if alcohol was legal, the same should be applied to weed. Our resident philosopher appeared once again to entertain us with delightful wisdom, saying “we should allow degenerates to smoke themselves to a life of mediocrity or overdose to the afterlife if that is what their weak minds desire”. They must be fun at parties.  Others used this section as an opportunity to spread conspiracy theories .

(#thewaragainstdrugsfailed anyone?)

In case you missed it, we have to reiterate that this is a self-selecting Google Form survey; the results are probably as accurate as you’d expect. If you have any questions, email [email protected]. The Tab does not endorse taking drugs, which is illegal.