Taking The Hit: a student's response
Last week, NUS and Release published research on student drug use and higher education institution policies around this topic. This is, to my knowledge, the first national piece of work on this and I was lucky enough to help Release with some of the research. The full report, which can be read here, highlights many areas of concern and gives details of drugs of choice and situations that students may be likely to use drugs – challenging a lot of stereotypical views in the process.
The reason I’m writing this for Change Grow Live, is because I see a lot of space for change and I don’t think we are anywhere close to where we could be with supporting students who use drugs – or even those who don’t for that matter; without credible organisations putting their weight behind this report, its findings and recommendations, Universities will not see this as crucial work to be done. I currently work in a HE students’ union so understand the importance of higher education in shifting the rhetoric around drug use and developing future leaders. Widening the debate, and encouraging students to speak up, is vital to bring about the change we so desperately need.
While the report presents worrying statistics about the relationship between students and drugs, what I think is more concerning is the context that these statistics live. Students do not exist in a vacuum, and yet discussions around drug use, drinking or housing often talk about ‘students’ as another species. University students may use drugs, that shouldn’t surprise you, but we must remember that so do an approximated 33% of the general population. Just over half the respondents to the survey had used drugs and while the report acknowledges this was not a proportional study, as the title is likely to have been more appealing to those students who do use drugs, it is clear to see that yes, there are students who use drugs. So what now?