Students at the University of Bristol will be able to get drug testing kits for free – thanks to funding by the university itself.
The Drop, part of Bristol Drugs Project, will have a regular drop-in at the students’ union where students will be able to collect the free drug reagent testing kit and receiving advice, support and information.
The university and its students’ union and Bristol Drugs Project have joined forces to promote harm reduction activities around drug use, including alcohol.
This is the first time a campaign of this type has taken place at the University of Bristol and the University is believed to be among the first in the country to be offering its students testing kits for recreational drugs, with similar initiatives having taken place at the University of Manchester and the University of Birmingham.
Alison Golden-Wright, director of student health and inclusion, said they recognise some students may choose to use drugs, including alcohol, and want to be sure they understand the risks and how they can reduce the harm.
She said: “Not only is support important but having accurate and useful advice is essential, which is why this new partnership with Bristol Drugs Project is so important.
“While we will continue to address antisocial and criminal behaviour, such as supplying illegal drugs, we know that a zero-tolerance stance is harmful and damaging as it prevents students reaching out as they may fear being punished.”
The director said research would be carried out by the School of Psychological Science, which will be surveying students to see which interventions work well to help shape their approach going forward.
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Maggie Telfer, Bristol Drugs Project’s CEO said: “We’re really excited to be a partner in developing a more open conversation with Bristol’s students about drugs, including alcohol.
“It should be no surprise that young adults (16-24 years) are the most frequent users of drugs, with the most recent 2018/19 crime survey showing 1 in 9 using a drug in the previous month.
“For people who’d been to a club four times or more in the last month, almost one in four used a Class A drug – most commonly Cocaine and MDMA. Both figures will be underestimates.”
All About Drugs has begun as a three-day campaign running from October 28 to 30, but activity will continue throughout the year to improve education on the harms associated with the use drugs and how to limit those harms.
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A core aim of the project is to ensure there are no barriers to students accessing support and to reduce the risk of harm associated with using drugs.
Ruth Day, Bristol SU student living officer, said: “This project is long overdue.
“I think it is important to recognise that some students will choose to use alcohol and other drugs, so we need to be doing all we can to reduce the harms that come with this.
“This campaign engages students with harm reduction information and hopefully can create an atmosphere of openness in this area on campus.
“I think it will play a huge part in reducing these harms and keeping our students as safe as possible.”
In 2018, a pop-up recreational drug testing service went to Stokes Croft for a weekend.
That same year non-profit The Loop became the first publicly-available drugs testing service in any UK city when it piloted in Bristol.